The Baltimore Ravens tight end group just took another hit with the news that Darren Waller has been suspended for 1 year after violating the NFL substance abuse policy. This is another setback for the Ravens as they have now lost two Tight Ends before training camp, now leaving Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams, Crockett Gilmore and Nick Boyle as the group set to compete for depth chart spots for a very underwhelming unit. The news of this suspension shouldn’t come as a shock to the Ravens however, as Waller has had issues with this before.
Darren Waller was drafted by the Ravens in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Ravens spent a draft pick on Waller mainly because of his height as he stands 6’6″ and could be used solely as a red zone target. During the 2015 season, he played in 6 games totaling only 2 receptions for 18 yards before he was placed on injured reserve. Then came 2016 when Waller violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy and was suspended for 4 games, Waller then played in 12 games totaling 10 catches for 85 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy against Marijuana seems pretty archaic to most fans in 2017, for 26 states and The District Of Columbia have laws broadly legalizing Marijuana in some form.
The fact is that Marijuana is a banned substance in the eyes of the NFL as is most places of employment, so people must abide by the rules set by said employer, but that is for another article. Waller was expected to have a bigger role in the Ravens offense in 2017 since moving to the Tight End position in 2016 from Wide Receiver, with that being the best chance of him contributing on a regular basis.
Waller is a unique prospect for the Ravens because he played all 4 years at Georgia Tech as a Wide Receiver but only had 51 catches in those seasons. His size of 6′ 6″ and 240 pounds, however, was a big selling point for many football scouts as he could potentially be a huge mismatch against NFL secondaries.
With this new setback for Waller, The Ravens have to wonder if it’s worth it to continue the Waller project, but they may need to consider the remaining depth chart. The Ravens tight end group is now stacked with former injury reserve candidates with Benjamin Watson (Torn achilles-2016) and Maxx Williams (Knee-2016). Often-injured Crockett Gillmore and performance-enhancing drug policy violator Nick Boyle round out the rest of the group. There is plenty of potential left for the solid veteran and 3 young starting prospects, so as long as they can stay healthy, stay off the weed, and not take performance enhancing drugs, the sky could be limit for this group.