Although the Las Vegas Raiders had high hopes for their revamped receiving corps last year, it was once again tight end Darren Waller that served as the top option in the passing game for quarterback Derek Carr.
It was a historic year for Waller after hauling in 107 receptions for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns. Not only did he set the mark for the third-most receptions by a tight end in a single season, but he also broke the record set by Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown for the most receptions in a season in franchise history.
There is no question that Waller is poised to keep his stellar stretch going in the 2021 NFL season. However, he is anxious to see the other pieces of this offense start to shine, like wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards.
It is no secret that the Raiders ushered in some major changes along the offensive line just a year after shoring up some firepower on offense. Regardless, Waller feels this group is well-equipped to kick things up a notch the season.
“Yes, I believe so. I believe that, especially just looking first at Henry and Bryan [Edwards] and them taking the steps toward being the players that we know they can be,” Waller said. “Two very talented young guys that just need to continue to grind and continue to be on their processes in order to see the success that they want to see. I feel like the offensive line is really going to be good this year. I know that a lot of guys have shifted, but just seeing how Andre James is taking control of the room and Kolton [Miller], how those guys are setting a high standard. With Denzelle [Good] being here and Richie [Incognito] leading the way, going into year 17 I believe. I really believe in the offensive line and what they’re building. I believe that Foster will really come into his own and show us who he can be. Then you have guys like John Brown, Willie [Snead IV]. You get Kenyan [Drake] out there, who is going to be incredibly explosive, so I like what we have this year.”
Lost in what was another meltdown during the second half of the season was a solid overall performance by the offense led by Carr and Waller. This group actually finished 10th in the league in scoring with 27.1 points per game despite having little help from a defense that was 30th with 29.9 points per game.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding the state of the offensive line after all the notable departures this offseason. However, the return of guards Denzelle Good and Richie Incognito should provide some stability for new starters like center Andre James and tackle Alex Leatherwood.
The biggest question will be whether or not Ruggs and Edwards can step up as viable options for Carr in the passing game. Either way, Waller has proven to be more than capable of shouldering the load if necessary.