Tucker Kraft, #85, Tight End, Las Vegas Raiders Prospect - Darren Waller Replacement (Photo by South Dakota State Athletic Department)

NFL Draft: How Tucker Kraft Can Be Darren Waller’s Replacement

The Las Vegas Raiders may be in the market for a new tight end this off-season. With trade rumors surrounding star tight end Darren Waller and Foster Moreau set to become an unrestricted free agent – the tight end position becomes a need for the Silver and Black. With a solid prospective draft class, the Raiders should have their eyes on South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft.

Tucker Kraft’s Background

The Jackrabbits’ star tight end hails from South Dakota. In high school, he was a dual star athlete in both basketball and football. He comes from small yet humble roots at Timber Lake High School, where he almost gave up his football career.

“We played 9-man football, the lowest class in basketball, and every other sport. We didn’t even have wrestling or baseball. We were small. I almost gave up. I didn’t think this was my thing; I thought I was going to get moved to D-line. I couldn’t catch the football; everything just happened so fast in your head.” – via Keloland Media Group

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end was the star of South Dakota State’s offense. As a two-year starter, he caught nine touchdowns in 24 games. He missed the beginning of this past season due to an ankle injury, yet he still produced. Moving forward, it will not be Kraft’s stats that will have NFL scouts drooling.

Tucker Kraft is Brute Force As a Pass Catcher

Regarding yards after the catch, Kraft excels as he possesses elite play strength at his already impressive size.

As a former offensive running back in high school, the South Dakota State standout was more than just an ‘F’ or ‘Y’ tight end. He is a valuable weapon who can create mismatches aligned anywhere on the field.

While proving to be a battering ram as an offensive weapon, what makes Tucker stand out is another aspect of his game.

Tucker Shows Potential as a Blocker

An essential aspect of a tight end at the NFL level is being able to block. Not for extended periods, but just enough to chip/help against pass rushers. For example, in the San Francisco 49ers offense under Kyle Shanahan, you will not see the playing field if you are unwilling to block. Tucker Kraft possesses all the tools to be an effective blocker.

As you can see above, the willingness is there, which can go a long way for many evaluators and scouts. However, for the Raiders, it presents an interesting problem.

Why the Raiders Should Consider Tucker Kraft

The Las Vegas Raiders must address the tight end position one way or another this off-season. Considering how deep the 2023 NFL Draft’s tight end class is – it may be a deciding factor in whether or not they move on from Darren Waller. That said, Tucker Kraft has many promising qualities that may be more valuable (and cheaper) in time than an often-injured Waller. Should the Raiders select a tight end, the former FCS All-American is one of the most well-rounded options in this year’s prospective class.

*Top Photo: South Dakota State Athletic Department

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