Las Vegas Raiders: Is Darren Waller the best tight end in the NFL?
By Daniel Davis
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller put on a show on Monday night, begging the question: Is he the best TE in the NFL right now?
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has proven he’s an elite target for Derek Carr since putting on the Silver and Black. On Monday night, he had a tremendous game in primetime, as he caught 12 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in the statement win against the New Orleans Saints, a likely Super Bowl favorite in 2020.
Last season, Waller stepped up and made a name for himself, cementing a status of sure-handed for Carr. Waller continued to be the No. 1 target for the Raiders offense on Monday night, helping the Raiders topple the Saints at the first game in Allegiant Stadium.
Waller made plays left and right, getting open against safeties and linebackers, looking like the elite tight-end we know he can be. Waller’s strength is his body type. He’s tall, physical, and is a hard player to cover for a defensive coordinator.
In Week 1, Waller caught 6 passes for 45 yards in a win that showed the offensive power the Raiders had.
Is Waller the best TE in the NFL?
In January, I went over why Darren Waller was an elite tight end and it’s time the NFL recognized it. The first step was the recognition on the NFL Top-100 players list from 2019, coming on at No. 99. Waller exploded on the NFL scene last season with over 1,100 yards and 90 catches in his first year as the starter for the Raiders.
The biggest impact Waller has is on third-down plays. Carr looked for Waller on third-down plays 58 times last season, and he had eight Monday night for a total of 11 on the season so far. Jon Gruden loves a big offensive line, and a bell-cow running bac,k and with those two things comes a tight end that can be successful with the play action passes.
Having a big target on the field also helps the young receiver core with Hunter Renfrow, Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Tyrell Williams. Waller is slowly becoming one of the best tight ends in the NFL and it’s time other teams give him the respect he deserves. Last night showed the potential he has and the ceiling will only go up with the added weapons to this team in the offseason.
He may not be the No. 1 tight end in the league just yet, but by the end of the 2020 season, that could certainly be the case.