One of the main reasons behind the Las Vegas Raiders’ turnaround this year has been tight end Darren Waller. The dominant pass-catcher continues to show why he’s one of, if not, the best at his position.
Ever since the Raiders snagged Waller from the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad, he’s been a revelation. Head coach Jon Gruden has since put Waller in a position to thrive with quarterback Derek Carr targeting him 230 times. That’s a lot of looks, in fact, no one comes close on the Raiders. When you look at this season alone, Hunter Renfrow is behind Waller with 56 targets, Waller nearly doubles that.
Can we really blame Carr though? Waller is a specimen, the very type that’s giving defensive coordinators fits on the sideline. He’s too fast for linebackers but too big and strong for cornerbacks, and has speed to boot. Pro Football Focus recently featured Waller with the accolade of being on their ‘team of the week’ for his dominant performance this past Sunday.
What do the numbers reveal for Raiders TE Darren Waller?
Darren Waller: 106 yards after catch vs NY
Only TE with 100+ YAC in a game this season pic.twitter.com/vfmZEFUvgX
— PFF (@PFF) December 7, 2020
PFF also featured Waller’s epic individual stat of having 106 yards after the catch, no other NFL tight end has done that in 2020. To go even further, per Pro Football Reference, Waller has a total of 421 yards after the catch. If you want to talk about ‘moving the chains’ for the 2020 Raiders, Waller has amassed 47 first down conversions on his own. Nelson Agholor is a distant second in that category with 26 first downs, Renfrow has 25.
Waller also has six broken tackles to his name, last year he had eight so he could eclipse that mark coming up in these final games. A category where he’s improving as well is his dropped passes per target percentage, currently it’s 3.7 which is down from last year’s 4.3. With Josh Jacobs being banged up this year and the wide receiving corps struggling to find its identity, other than Carr, Waller is clearly this team’s MVP.
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Bill Kostroun