While his weight room numbers might dispute this assessment (only 12 reps in the 225-pound bench press), he is a strong runner after the catch, one that will not hesitate to use a stiff-arm to consistently break arm tackles. For a big receiver, he does a nice job of keeping his pads low and appears to be shiftier than a player with his frame usually is.
Waller has also become a savvy open-field runner, thanks to his good vision. He is sudden to turn and run after the catch and has the speed to make the first defender miss. Thanks to that initial burst, he does not need a crease in order to be effective after the catch.
The Georgia Tech product is a tough competitor when the ball is in the air or in his hands. He knows how to use his body to shield defenders and will fight hard for extra yards. He has also become a physical run blocker. Perhaps due to his defensive experience, he takes good angles when stalking second-level defenders as a lead blocker.
As a pass catcher, while passing seems to be an afterthought at Georgia Tech, Waller will not hesitate to call for the ball, nor will he shy away from contact and will expose his frame to the big hit. He will get right up and turn into a defender when the ball is thrown up for grabs and after the catch, he runs hard and fights for yards after contact. There are times where he gets too aggressive as a blocker, resulting in needless penalties, but you would much rather have him show effort rather than just get in a defender’s way.
While Waller still needs mechanical refinement, one thing is certain with him – you can’t teach his combination of size, speed and leaping ability as a vertical route runner. He is a mismatch vs. smaller defenders and excels at getting to the ball on the perimeter. He is becoming a reliable threat, as he showed in 2014 that he is learning how to run precise routes. He takes no wasted steps getting in and out of breaks, and while he will need technique work in beating press-coverage he does attack defenders with a strong punch.
Waller, for a tall receiver, does a pretty decent job of sinking his hips and exploding out of his cuts, especially for a player that has had to perform in a run-heavy scheme that offers limited opportunities to catch the ball. He has a quick burst, along with demonstrating the tempo needed when changing speed quickly at the top of stem.
Waller has a nice feel for working in the zone and looks around the field to find the area to settle into the pockets. He is efficient at using his hands and quick feet to get inside leverage on quick slants and posts. He also flashes the ability to locate seams when operating in the zone.
Darren Waller Scouting Combine measurables
6-6/238 (4.46 forty)
33 1/4-inch arm length
37-inch vertical jump
10-foot-5 broad jump
7.07 3-cone drill
4.25 20-yard shuttle<
11.35 60-yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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