From time to time, celebrities including actors, scientists and well-known sports figures go on the popular website Reddit to participate in Ask Me Anything (AMA) threads, taking unfiltered questions from their fans. Today on the Oakland Raiders Reddit site, Raiders tight end Darren Waller held an AMA. He talked about his time with the Raiders, his youth football experiences, music, and more. Here are some of the questions and answers that are found in Waller’s AMA.
Q: Hey Darren! Which rookie has impressed you the most this offseason?
A: I’ll probably say Foster Moreau. I’m very impressed with him. Very good blocker. Very underrated in the passing game. You wouldn’t think he’s very fast if you look at his times, but he can really move. Very smooth runner. Definitely understands the game and takes it pretty seriously. All the rookies have done something to impress me, though.
His consistency is impressive. I think he went up for a ball on a sail route in OTAs and just like… really got up off the ground, and I was like, Wow, Foster’s not just your typical grinder-of-the-ax blocking tight end. He can do a lot of things.
Q: Other than all the new faces, what’s changed the most from last year?
A: I feel like it’s the same energetic feel on offense. I feel like the defensive leadership has really stood out to me, as far as Vontaze and LaMarcus Joyner, but also guys like Tahir, Johnathan Hankins. Guys that have been here since last year. They’ve just really helped change the whole vibe around here. They know what our numbers were last year, but they know that there is no way they’re going to be the same this year.
Q: Which tight end or receiver do you model your game after the most? Past or present.
A: I’ve watched a LOT of tape, so there isn’t any one in particular. It’s more about taking things I like from a lot of other people’s game. Of course Jimmy Graham since the New Orleans days; you’ve got Kelce in our division; Zach Ertz; I’m really a fan of the way Greg Olsen plays… Lotta guys.
Q: I have a question, do you think that being featured on Hard Knocks is as much of a distraction as people make it out to be? Seems a little overblown to me.
A: I think it’s a bit overblown. I feel like they actually do a good job of capturing the camp atmosphere. I’ve had no problem with it. And I don’t sense any of the other guys going out of their way to be extra or show out for the cameras or anything like that. I feel like guys are just focusing in. We’ve got a lot of stuff to do here anyway, and if they want to make a show about it, that’s cool. We’ve got a pretty unique journey here.
Q: What’s your favorite memory of football?
A: We had a really good football team when I was like seven or eight to 10 years old. Blackwell Bears in Metro Atlanta. I played quarterback. Those were really great times. Our team was really good and those times when we were little and doing all those hitting drills — even though looking back now it’s like, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing. But those were probably the most fun times for me.
Q: Hey Darren outside of football , what is your favorite pastime / hobby ?
A: My favorite hobby right now is definitely producing and making beats and recording music. It’s something I started doing when I got drafted in Baltimore. I just started rapping in the iPod earbud headphones on my MacBook, but now I record at a studio.
I’ve released some of it. I have a project called Wall Street coming out on my birthday September 3. I do have a SoundCloud. My first project’s called Better Call Wall. It’s on iTunes and Spotify.
Q: Other than natural talent, what made Jared Cook so successful in this system last year?After all, he did have a career year at 31 years old.
A: His ability to retain a lot of information and his ability to line up in so many different spots. He’s such a good player, but if he just lined up in one spot, it would give the defense more of an opportunity to gameplan for him. But now it’s like he can line up out wide by himself, he can line up in the middle, trips, he can line up in the bunch, and it’s now it’s like, “Man, what do we do with this guy?” Because he’s a beast to begin with.
Also his catch radius and how he looks the ball in when he catches it. He can catch it at so many angles, but if you zoom in on his eyes, they’re always looking it in. He’s a good route runner. Smooth. He’s knows those little tricks of the trade, like how you don’t always have to run full speed to get open. He knows where to fall into zones and how to fall back into holes for Derek. So that’s why he was really successful — among a whole lot of other things.
Waller has been, according to media reports, far and away the best tight end at Raiders camp and many expect him to win the starting tight end job. It’s interesting to read about his personal approach to the game, his love for football and about his other interests in life. If Waller takes the tight end job and runs with it, you’ll see a lot more press about him this season.