Oakland Raiders add another solid weapon in Luke Willson
By Daniel Davis
The Oakland Raiders continue to stockpile weapons for Derek Carr this offseason, and the signing of Luke Willson was a solid one last week.
Mike Mayock has been busy this offseason. From the Antonio Brown trade to getting Tyrell Williams opposite of him, to signing of Trent Brown to protect Derek Carr on those long plays down-field, the Raiders added Luke Willson to the mix too.
Considering the players Oakland has signed in recent weeks, this one surprises me the most. Luke Willson is entering his 7th season in the NFL and not sure what the Raiders found in him. Willson spent the first 5 years of his career with the Seattle Seahawks and helped them win a Super Bowl and then he was signed to the Lions on a one-year deal for 2018.
The Raiders recently let Jared Cook walk in free agency to the New Orleans Saints and gave Drew Brees another incredible weapon for their prolific offense and if Wilson is the replacement, I’m puzzled.
Even though Willson was listed as a tight end, he played full back for Seattle when it was needed in I formations or when a sweeping blocker was needed on a counter or off-tackle run. Jared Cook’s run blocking ability was below average just because he’s more of a receiving TE rather than a blocking one, but Willson is more of a blocking tight end than a receiving one. But even then, he’s average.
Fieldgulls has a good article going over his weaknesses and they’re pretty telling. He has a poor blocking technique and doesn’t seem to put his hands on the defenders. Instead, he looks for the “big hit” and doesn’t drive the defender back. The first thing you learn when you start blocking is getting your hands low and driving the defender backward with your legs. Luke doesn’t seem to do that. He turns his body and drives with his shoulder and allows the defender to shed the block easily and rendering his block useless.
However, his catching ability is better than his blocking ability as seen in the highlight reel below. I looked up some of his highlights and I saw many good routes ran and good catches he made while in traffic. There is also a big hit by Dontae Whitner showing he can take a big hit.
Overall, I’m not really sure what they see in him, but it’s a better signing than a younger less experienced tight end. However, I do see the Raiders having a top 10 passing attack this season with Brown, Williams, and Willson.