When it comes to the Las Vegas Raiders offense, 28-year-old tight end Darren Waller is the straw that stirs the drink. After recording just 178 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns through his first three NFL seasons, Waller has toppled the 1,000-yard mark in each of the last two campaigns. Needless to say, it's unsurprising to know that some people have high expectations for him in 2021.
Raiders insider Vic Tafur is one person who is expecting a lot from Waller next season. The Athletic writer projects that the tight end will have a monster year in 2021, saying on Monday that Waller will "surely top" the 1,196 receiving yards he had last season.
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According to Tafur, Waller credits WR Henry Ruggs III and his speed as one of the reasons why the tight end can easily get open in the middle of the field. Considering how Ruggs recorded a 4.27-second 40-yard dash in 2020, Waller certainly isn't wrong about his statement. The rookie wideout finished his first NFL campaign with 452 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns while averaging 17.4 yards per reception.
Nevertheless, projecting over 1,200 yards for any player — especially a tight end — is quite the expectation. However, Waller is extremely talented and, if anyone can do it, it's probably him. Since the 2019 NFL season, he ranks 2nd in receptions (197) and receiving yards (2,341) and 4th in touchdowns (12) among tight ends. Some wide receivers can't even put up those kinds of numbers, which shows just how special Waller is.
Unfortunately, Waller hasn't had the opportunity to show what he can do in the NFL postseason. The Raiders have yet to make the playoffs with him on the roster and have only qualified for the postseason once since 2003. Something drastic would have to happen to reverse their fortunes next year.
In other words, Las Vegas could really use a monster performance from their star tight end in 2021. After all, FanDuel Sportsbook is currently projecting the Raiders to miss next season's playoffs at -480 odds. Meanwhile, their odds of winning the Super Bowl stand at +7500 (26th).
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