The Buccaneers may have liked what they saw from Jaelon Darden in the pre-draft process, but his first year on the team did not live up to billing.
It can be difficult to truly judge a rookie based on what you see during their first season. There are a lot of things that need to go right for most rookies to find success, and while it looked like Jaleon Darden met the criteria for that with the Buccaneers, he never found his step on offense or special teams.
While a guy like that would normally be on some sort of hot seat with a team like the Bucs that is trying to win in the short term, Darden’s spot should be safe based on his forth-round draft status and the fact that Tampa traded up to secure him.
Still, how much slack with Darden get from the Bucs if his play doesn’t turn around?
The answer is probably not too much.
Day Three wide receivers don’t pan out all the time. There was plenty to like in Darden’s tape and what he showed in camp last season, but let’s not act like there is a shortage of wide receivers in this market.
When a team like the Bucs has guys like Cyril Grayson stepping up and looking like one of the top receivers when he’s on the field, giving guys too much slack over the years based on draft status is foolish.
Darden absolutely should get a chance to prove that he belongs as a receiver and likely as a returner, but let’s not pretend that he is a lock to stay on this roster for the future. That honor is something every player has to earn, and Darden still has some earning to do before he lives up to the hype.
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