Baltimore Ravens: How does Darren Waller fit into the equation?
The Baltimore Ravens made room for Darren Waller on their 90 man roster but does the re-instated tight end have a shot to make the team?
The Baltimore Ravens have a new addition to their roster (kind of) with Darren Waller. Waller spent the 2017 season suspended for the NFL’s substance abuse policy and now he’s off to a late start in Ravens training camp. Does Waller fit into the plan or is he destined to get cut?
Before the 2018 NFL Draft, Waller had a real shot at having a comeback with the purple and black. The Ravens willingly lost Benjamin Watson to the New Orleans Saints. Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams and Vince Mayle were all the Ravens were left with. Essentially the Ravens had a blocker, a draft bust and a special teams stud as their tight ends. Then the draft happened and the entire situation changed.
The Ravens spent a first round pick on Hayden Hurst. Remember, the Ravens took him before they drafted Lamar Jackson. That tells you how much they value Hurst and how badly they needed to make the pick. Then the Ravens spent their second third round selection on Mark Andrews. The Ravens all the sudden had two promising rookies as locks for the 53 man roster.
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Roster math doesn’t work in Waller’s favor. First, Waller is a hybrid player. He isn’t going to do much blocking, he’s a receiver as much as he is a tight end. The Ravens have a heated battle at the wide receiver position. Baltimore has a strong case for keeping seven wide receivers.
Then you add the fact that John Harbaugh will likely decide to go with three quarterbacks. The offense has to cap the number of tight ends they can keep. The Ravens will have a tough time keeping more than four tight ends. Hurst is the projected starter no matter what the first depth chart said. Andrews is a lock for the 53 man roster. Boyle is the best from a blocking standpoint and Mayle contributes on special teams.
These are the four tight ends that give the Ravens the most value. Waller has a shortened chance to prove that list wrong. Waller was showing real signs of growth in 2016. It took him a while to get used to operating as a tight end and he did a lot of hard work to get there. The suspension was costly to Waller, because the Ravens had a vision for him and worked so hard to see it through. There could be some frustration waiting for him when he returns to practice.
The roster math isn’t the only problem facing Waller. He has been out of football for a year. Football shape can be maintained to a point, but being away from football doesn’t help. Waller’s readiness is a real big question. If you were putting money on this, it would be hard to bet that Waller makes the team. The cards are stacked up against him. That being said, Waller has an alluring skill set the Ravens have been patient to unleash. They may take a chance with him, but he has to earn it each and every day,