Raiders: 2022 two-deep prediction for the offensive skill positions
TE1: Darren Waller
Like Carr and Adams, this is one of the more obvious ones – The Raiders’ TE1 is, and will continue to be, Darren Waller. Waller has been a staple in the Raiders’ offense since he was plucked off of Baltimore’s practice squad.
For those who haven’t heard the story of how Waller came to be a Raider, it’s quite remarkable. Former Raiders’ offensive coordinator, Greg Olsen, tells the story of him going to check out Baltimore’s backup quarterbacks, and stumbling upon Darren Waller.
“We didn’t have anybody that looked like Darren Waller”, Olsen explains; “Not in terms of the size, the speed, the athleticism”. As Olsen went into the locker room to explain Waller to Jon Gruden, who served as the Raiders’ head coach at the time, he explained he’d never seen anyone like Waller. As the team was boarding their flight after the game, Gruden was ready to sign Waller, before even taking off.
As we know, the rest is history.
In his last three-seasons with the Silver and Black, Waller has totaled 3,006 receiving yards, while crossing the plane on 14 occasions. The 6’6 tight end has 252 receptions to his name in this span, earning a Pro Bowl appearance in 2020.
Today, Waller’s impact on the team runs deeper than any stat can measure. When teammates and team leaders Maxx Crosby and Derek Carr signed their multi-year extensions this off-season, they did so with intent to leave enough room for Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. Once it was time for Renfrow to sign his extension, he carried out that same mission, leaving food for Waller to eat once it’s his time.
Waller’s teammates understand his importance to the team, as both a player and a leader. For this, they are happily willing to take less money to ensure the TE1 remains with the Raiders.