Could Buccaneers WR Jaelon Darden be the next Antonio Brown?
Jaelon Darden has jumped into the NFL spotlight after joining the best offense in the NFL. The Buccaneers have an embarrassment of riches on the quarterback and receiver front, and Darden brings this unit to another level.
After a dominant college career at North Texas, a school that usually falls under the radar, the Bucs were viewed as a team that found a “diamond in the rough” with their fourth-round selection of Darden.
Even since that pick, Darden has been a force to reckon with during OTAs, and training camp will be a fun evaluation process for a rookie with an extremely high ceiling. How high is this ceiling? Well, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has just compared the newest rookie receiver to one of the best receivers of the 2010s.
Somehow, in the past year, the world has forgotten just how good Antonio Brown was. The off-field issues have certainly been a massive problem and tarnished his legacy, but Brown was undeniably one of the three best receivers of the past decade, and it isn’t particularly close.
Jaelon Darden can be the 2010s AB for the Buccaneers
During AB’s 10 season in the 2010s, which includes his rookie season with 19 targets and his year with the Patriots that only saw eight targets, Brown averaged 1,126 yards per season. This stat adds in two seasons with next to no production, yet Brown still averaged over the 1,000-yard watermark.
Brown displayed a level of dominance that can only be overshadowed by substantial off-field issues. Four All-Pro seasons in a row and missing out on a fifth with a 1,500-yard year is one of the most impressive offensive accomplishments of the decade, and now, Darden is drawing comparisons to this player.
According to The Pewter Report on Twitter, Leftwich sees similarities between Brown and Darden, and so do we.
Both receivers are undersized, overlooked from their school, and far from the biggest names in their respective classes on paper. Brown has made a career upon the motivation he got in his draft snub, and Darden could easily do the same as another day three pick.
In addition to the paper traits, Darden is a shifty receiver with good hands, route running, and a level of versatility that can help across the offense and special teams unit. Darden plays with a level of confidence and self-assurance that every superstar in the NFL is known for, and Brown was the exact same way in his early years.
Now, Darden does need to learn from Brown and keep the off-field issues to a minimum, but with the current construction of the roster and with Brown to learn from first-hand, Jaelon Darden is in a perfect position to reach his full potential; potential that is already higher than Brown’s when he first entered the league.
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