Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has coached Hall of Famers like Charles Woodson, Tim Brown, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch over the course of his career, but he said on Monday night that one of his current players is the best of everyone he’s ever coached.
Tight end Darren Waller posted huge numbers the last two seasons and the 2021 season opener set the stage for another big year. Waller was targeted 19 times by quarterback Derek Carr in Monday night’s overtime win over the Ravens and he caught 10 of the balls for 105 yards, including a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We threw it 60 times, and if you threw it 60 times you would probably target him 29 times,” Gruden said, via Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com. “He’s the best player I have ever coached, so I am going to continue to look for him.”
Waller’s Monday exploits came against the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, but his Ravens tenure was marred by suspensions for substance abuse violations and he eventually was signed by the Raiders off Baltimore’s practice squad in 2018. Waller caught six passes that year and entered the 2019 campaign with 18 career catches.
He has 207 catches in 33 games since that point and there’s no reason to think he’ll be slowing down at any point in the near future.