Darren Waller provides an intriguing option at wide receiver for the Ravens.
One look at the sixth round pick out of Georgia Tech will easily reveal why. Standing at 6'6 and approximately 240 pounds, Waller is much bigger than the average NFL wide receiver.
In a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, where the team averaged roughly 7-8 pass attempts per game in his senior season, Waller wasn't exactly a featured player. He finished his senior season with 26 catches for 442 yards (an average of 17 yards per reception) and 6 touchdowns.
Waller has had a strong offseason, performing well in the rookie minicamp, as well as in training camp. He didn't make a particularly strong impression during his first preseason game against the Saints, catching one pass for 12 yards, but despite the performance, Waller still has a strong chance of making the final 53 man roster.
Jamison Hensley at ESPN recently projected the Ravens 53 man roster and said that he believes the Ravens will carry six receivers on the final roster (In the past, the Ravens have carried seven starting out, but it could change this year due to injuries and increased depth on the defensive line). Of those six, Hensley said the six receivers will be Smith Sr, Perriman, Aiken, Brown, Campanaro, and Waller. Hensley said he gives Waller the edge over Butler because Butler "hasn't been as impressive as he was in the spring."
Waller has a high ceiling. With more game experience and more passes thrown his way, Waller has the potential to grow into a dangerous threat as a receiver. By keeping him on the 53 man roster, the Ravens would make sure that they were the ones that would be able to develop him and reap the benefits of when he reaches his ceiling.
However, Waller isn't just a project. He won't be an every-down receiver and he still has a LONG way to go before he is a regular starter, but in certain packages and scenarios, he could prove to be valuable.
He would definitely be a major threat in the red zone. Aside from his size, Waller has strong leaping ability and can go up and win a jump ball in the end zone. His ability to box out a defender and go up for a catch could prove to be a valuable asset for Joe Flacco when they're 15-20 yards from the end zone.
The rule change regarding extra points and two point conversions makes the possibility of Waller being on the final roster that much more intriguing. With the Ravens having one of the best kickers in the league in Justin Tucker, the Ravens will most likely still opt for the extra point on most occasions, but the possibility of lining up a 6'6 Waller with his ability to win jump balls in the end zone would bode well for those scenarios.
Darren Waller has to improve in several areas to be a regular starter. He needs to work on his route running and technique, but it is likely that those will come in time and with experience. However, his size and potential are major factors working in his favor. For Waller to make the team, he will have to perform better than he did against New Orleans and show that he can be the red-zone threat that many expect him to be in the NFL.