SI ranks Giants’ Darren Waller among NFL’s top 5 tight ends

SI ranks Giants’ Darren Waller among NFL’s top 5 tight ends

The New York Giants traded a 2022 third-round draft pick to the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason in exchange for former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller.

The move didn’t faze many experts as they pointed out that Waller has had some recent health issues and may not be the player he once was.

But…if he’s healthy and used properly, he can be the difference-maker the Giants’ offense has been lacking the past few years.

In a recent list of the top 10 tight ends in the NFL heading into the 2023 season by the folks at Sports Illustrated, Waller placed fourth behind Travis Kelce (Kansas City), George Kittle (San Francisco) and Mark Andrews (Baltimore).

Some might argue Waller, 30, is ranked too high because of his lackluster final two seasons with the Raiders. But when he’s healthy, Waller is a matchup nightmare and might be as good of a pass catcher as the top two tight ends on this list. Also, a fresh start with the Giants might help Waller regain his dominant form from his 2019 and ’20 seasons. (He averaged 98.5 receptions and 1,170 receiving yards during that time.) Derek Carr benefited from Waller’s presence during their time together with the Raiders. Now Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will have the luxury of throwing to the 6’6″, 255-pound Waller.

Waller has already shown what he can bring during the Giants’ OTAs, especially in the red zone. With all the returnees and additions to the offensive arsenal this year, Waller could be the ‘can opener’ that splits defenses in half with big plays up the seam and huge mismatch opportunities in the end zone.

“As soon as you walk on the field, you can see he’s a big guy,” said quarterback Daniel Jones. “He can run. He can run every route. Catches the ball really well, great body control. He’s been really fun to work with. A really smart guy. He’s picked up things really quickly too.”

Jones is excited about having Waller as not only a security blanket but as a weapon in general.

“He can do a lot,” said Jones. “He’s obviously a tough matchup for people, for defenses, with a guy who can run like that with that kind of size, and how you play him in man and how you account for him in zone coverages. He definitely gives something for a defense to worry about or to game plan for, and we can move him around and put him in different spots. Just a super versatile player.”

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