The New York Giants are keen on nurturing a professional bond between quarterback Daniel Jones and their new addition, tight end Darren Waller. Formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders, Waller aims to bring his exceptional offensive prowess to Big Blue.
Waller: A WR1 Supplement with Unlimited Upside
Waller, aged 30, joins the Giants as a solution to their need for a WR1. He does so with an affordable cap hit and unbounded potential ($4M cap hit for the 2023 season). Despite being two seasons away from his 1,196-receiving yards and nine touchdowns campaign, Waller remains a credible threat.
Recent injuries have hampered Waller’s momentum, but he is fully fit and ready to make his mark during the training camp. He is keen to adapt and flourish within the Giants’ scheme.
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Giants’ Expectations from Waller: A Downfield Threat
Daniel Jones will certainly benefit from a downfield threat, possessing Waller’s level of athleticism and speed. Waller, one of the most agile tight ends in the game, is set to boost the Giants’ performance in the seams and deeper route areas, where they underperformed in 2022.
For context, Jones only launched 26 passes over 20+ yards downfield, completing 10 for 359 yards and two touchdowns. The onus lies heavily on the offensive line to safeguard Jones, letting routes mature. Right tackle Evan Neal, therefore, faces pressure to elevate his game.
In the 2020 season, Waller caught seven 20+ yards downfield receptions, amassing 198 yards and two touchdowns. This is more than half of what Jones achieved as quarterback the previous season.
Waller’s Potential in Shorter Routes and Post-Catch Production
Waller also proved potent in shorter routes, 0-9 yards from the line of scrimmage, recording 622 yards and three touchdowns. He added 5.7 yards post-catch per reception, demonstrating his ability to resist tackles and enhance runs, attributes the Giants expect to leverage from the veteran.
The exciting aspect will be how the Giants distribute Waller’s playing time, whether as an in-line tight end, a jumbo slot, or even on the boundary.
During his stint with the Raiders, Waller occupied the slot for 61.9% of his playtime and was out wide for 20%, effectively eliminating him from a conventional role. Waller’s gradual transition towards a receiving role is likely to be further accentuated by the Giants, with Daniel Bellinger solidifying the trenches.
The Giants look set to have a dynamic duo at the tight end, giving Daniel Jones a reliable pair to utilize as a catalyst for a rejuvenated unit.