Raiders head coach/offensive mastermind Jon Gruden has some fun things planned for Darren Waller. The tall, athletic receiving tight end will move around the formation in search of favorable matchups.
Though, at 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds with a 4.46-second 40-yard dash, he's a tough matchup for anyone. Waller will be heavily involved in the passing game, and has worked hard to not be a liability when asked to block.
That job will primarily go to others, though the Raiders are looking at others to step in that area. Lee Smith considered himself another lineman and was an excellent blocker, but his offseason release leaves the job to others.
Several candidates will vie for that job and maybe one other in a competitive tight end group. It's a tight pack heading into training camp, difficult to predict which guys besides Waller will make it.
Count Foster Moreau as a frontrunner. Position coach Frank Smith stumped hard for him this offseason, and fourth-round picks almost always get a few years to prove their worth. Derek Carrier returns with two years left on his contract, but none of it's guaranteed. Veteran Luke Willson's in the mix, alongside 2018 practice squad staple Paul Butler and veteran Erik Swoope.
It's hard to count anybody out right now in what looks like a relatively even race. If Waller's a lock and Moreau's virtually the same, that puts four guys running for one, maybe two gigs.
Competition there should be fierce, played out in camp and preseason games. Special teams performance is key in this battle, as is performance as a true in-line tight end. Waller insurance would also be nice, though his unique skill set is tough to replicate.
Finding proper mix among tight ends is important in several areas, and a good crop on the 53-man roster adds dimension to what Gruden can do offensively.
Early edge: Waller is a lock; Moreau and Carrier positioned for remaining spots