By rule of thumb, you can never be too deep at any one position and the Las Vegas Raiders are stocked up at tight end. But who has the inside edge?
The 2020 NFL season is still up in the air but one hotly contested battle for the Las Vegas Raiders focuses on one of the most talented groups on the team: tight end.
If you look at the tight ends on the current Raiders roster, there’s no shortage of talent or experience. From rookie Nick Bowers to old man Jason Witten, to the talented and resurgent Darren Waller, this group is deep and talented which means a very competitive camp coming up in Henderson next month.
There are just a couple of “gimme” picks in this group that will almost certainly be starters in one of the most tight end friendly systems in the league. Coach Jon Gruden has always relied heavily on his tight ends and nothing has changed in his second stint as head coach.
After a fantastic 2019 season, Darren Waller was a man reborn who accomplished a seemingly impossible mission, making him a Top 5 tight end in the league. You can practically set your watch to him starting this year.
Another sure thing is Foster Moreau. The second-year player had a very solid rookie season, despite some injuries. He was a solid pick for a draft that saw several new stars emerge for the Raiders. He’s been a strong leader at unofficial workouts in Las Vegas.
The rest of the roster is going to be a fun back and forth to watch. Paul Bowers was an undrafted free agent signing that gives the Raiders solid depth and a good option for blocking. Paul Butler is another option that doesn’t bring NFL experience, but a confident depth pick that spent his 2018 and part of 2019 seasons on the Raiders practice squad. It’s possible that one of these guys makes some waves in training camp or preseason but they’ll be hard-pressed to unseat any starters.
That brings us to the biggest question marks on the roster. Derek Carrier and Jason Witten have a combined quarter-century of experience in the league. Carrier has spent the last two seasons with the Silver and Black and has been a go-to option in big packages that feature double tight end sets and a good blocker on run plays. He’s a solid traditional tight end option.
Jason Witten is quite a different story. Witten brings more experience than anyone else on the team, but some say he has lost a step since his brief foray into broadcasting. Still, his stats in 2019 were in line with his regular performance from seasons past. He’s a good all-around player who can serve the team well as a blocker and a pass-catcher. The biggest bonus he brings to the party, however, is that something special that only veteran players can offer. His experience, leadership, and guidance he can provide as a venerable player in the league may prove invaluable. Jon Gruden covets experienced voices for his teams and Witten brings the promise of that.
Knowing the Raiders and if history is any indication, there will be some turnover a few times between now and Game One of the season, but the current roster provides a solid starting point for a team that’s looking up at a playoff berth this year and plans to fight hard to get there.