Jon Gruden has coached some of the best receivers to ever play in the NFL. This includes Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Keyshawn Johnson, and Joey Galloway. He has also coached such figures as Ronde Barber, Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp and countless others.
But in his measure, Darren Waller is the best of the group.
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Gruden discussed his tight end after being heavily used in the Raiders’ 33-27 win over the Ravens. Waller saw 19 targets, a career high, and Gruden was happy that Derek Carr had targeted his primary weapon so many times.
“We threw it 60 times. If you threw it 60 times, you will probably target it 29,” Gruden said after the game, by Adam Hill from Las Vegas Journal Review. “He’s the best player I’ve ever coached so I’ll keep looking for him.”
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That’s great praise for Waller, but it’s certainly justified. The 29-year-old is one of the best tight ends in football, and has recorded at least 1,145 yards and 90 catches in each of the past two seasons. It’s 6-6, 255 pounds, and has the unique combination of size and speed needed to be a multi-faceted weapon; he’s too big to be covered by defensive backs, but he’s too quick for linebackers in space.
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Still, Waller was flattered by Gruden’s unexpected assessment of his play.
“Dang, it’s crazy he said that,” Waller said of Gruden’s praise, by Athletic’s Jimmy Durkin.
Waller may not see 19 targets each week like he did against the Ravens, but he will continue to be the # 1 target for Carr and the Raiders’ offense. And whatever he does, he’s come a long way both on and off the pitch since joining the Raiders in 2018.