A healthy Darren Waller will relegate Foster Moreau, Jacob Hollister to backup roles but both need to be on their toes
As a TE2, Foster Moreau offers the Las Vegas Raiders exactly what you want from a backup tight end. He can run routes and catch the rock, also stay in-line and block, and is a ready and willing special teamer. And, in a pinch, Moreau can be a respectable starting tight end.
But so long as Darren Waller is healthy and available, Moreau is relegated to backup duties at the position. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a role that suits the fourth-round pick (137th overall, 2019 NFL Draft) skillset very well.
Moreau is in the mold of more traditional tight ends compared to the mismatch nightmare that is Waller (due to being a converted wide receiver). At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Moreau ran a 4.66 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine coming out of LSU. That’s a solid time considering Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby clocked in the same 40 time at the combine. Coming out of LSU, Moreau was known more for being a willing blocker and plodding target.
Over the course of his three seasons in Silver & Black, however, Moreau has shifted that narrative a bit. While he still has no qualms mixing it up as blocker (whether it’s run or pass blocking) at the pro level, the 25-year-old has shown ample giddy up when running routes, catching the rock, and gaining yards after the catch (YAC). He’s shown he’s not a mere plodding tight end out there hauling in 58 of his 78 targets for 687 yards (11.8 yards per catch average) to go with 10 touchdowns over his initial three seasons.
Still, Moreau didn’t supremely impress when elevated to starting tight end with Waller missing five games last season. Moreau’s totals were 30 catches, 373 yards (189 YAC) and three scores this past year, which are numbers teams can expect from a backup. Granted, Moreau doesn’t offer the same versatility that Waller offers — Vegas can move Waller all over the field due to his route-running and pure speed (4.46 40-yard dash time) — so his usage and involvement in the offense won’t be the same, which is no surprise. But there’s still a place for Moreau as both as occasional seam buster and blocker.
But what last season proved is injuries can and will happen and the backups must be on their toes and ready to assume the mantle if a starter goes down.
Which leads to the other tight ends on the Raiders roster, currently. Jacob Hollister, Nick Bowers, Cole Fortheringham and the recently arrived Jesper Horsted round out the tight ends on the 90-man roster.
Of that group, Hollister has the most gameday experiences with a total of 57 games and 12 starts. He’s hauled in 83 of his 129 targets for 707 yards and seven touchdowns over his five-year careers so far. The 6-foot-4, 239-pounder from Wyoming started his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots back in 2017 and spent two seasons there — familiarity with McDaniels and Co. His biggest workload came during his two-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks where 66 of his career catches and 558 yards along with six touchdowns occurred.
Like Moreau, the 28-year-old Hollister is better suited as a backup rather than a starter.
Horsted is a college wide receiver-turned-NFL tight end, much like Waller, except without the eye-popping athleticism and big-time pro production (or opportunity). The Princeton product — who clocked 4.5-range 40 times — was a prolific target in college setting career records for receptions (196) and touchdowns (28) — no other Princeton player has 20-career TDs. His final year at Princeton saw him snare 92 passes for 1,226 yards and 14 touchdowns. But he was deemed “big and slow” to be an NFL wideout, so the switch to tight end happened. The 6-foot-4, 241-pound Horsted spent 2019 and 2021 with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent and has appeared in 13 games with one start. He’s hauled in 10 of his 13 targets for 108 yards and three touchdowns.
The connection here is Raiders assistant general manager Champ Kelly was on the Bears player personnel staff and is familiar with the 25-year-old Horsted.
Bowers and Fotheringham, on the other hand, are a pair of undrafted free agents looking to make an impression and land on the practice squad. Bowers did appear in five games last season primarily as a blocker and special teamer. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Penn State alum has the size to be an in-line blocker. The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Fotheringham profiles similar coming out of Utah as a blocker and occasional pass catcher.