Breakout Player: Darren Waller
In 2018, Darren Waller joined the Raiders during the back half of the season — recording just six catches for 75 yards in four games. While he didn’t contribute much to the team in 2018, Gruden and the coaching staff continued to rave about his talent with hope that he’d develop into a premier tight end in the NFL.
Gruden was all over this one, as Waller broke out this season in a big way — leading the Raiders in receptions and receiving yards. The Oakland offense lacked weapons on the outside at wide receiver, making Waller the focal point of the throwing attack. Aside from his ability as a pass catcher, Waller’s growth from a blocking standpoint carried large weight as a fierce blocking tight end and help in run support.
Waller finished the season, ranking second among tight ends in receptions (97), receiving yards (1,145), and ranked third in plays of 20+ yards or more (15). After his hot start to the season, the Raiders gave Waller a contract extension worth $29.8 million over four seasons, making him the future tight end as the team makes the move to Las Vegas.