TAMPA, FL - Jaelon Darden can move.
“Being able to make guys miss, I feel like that’s what I do best,” said the Bucs’ rookie wide receiver.
He’s already turning heads in just two short days of practice.
“He’s super quick,” said Bucs head coach Bruce Arians. “Super quick and fast and catches the football extremely easily so, yea, he can be very explosive.”
It’s easy to spot Darden on the field. He’s the little guy running around in the number one. While NFL players are celebrating the ability to wear the single digits of their youth or college days, Darden is cherishing that number for a whole different reason.
“My dad (saw) me play in #1 so that means more to me than anything,” said Darden.
read more: https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/sports/2021/05/16/news-bucs-wr-jaelon-darden-making-his-late-father-proud
The prototypical slot receiver is a piece of the puzzle that the Buccaneers' offense has lacked thus far under head coach Bruce Arians, but has now acquired in Darden. Arians instead opts to put bigger, more physical receivers in the slot such as Chris Godwin or even Mike Evans on occasion. In 2020, the 6-foot-1, 209 pound Chris Godwin played 55% of his reps from the slot, where he is dangerous thanks to his glue-like hands and crispy route running.
Although Darden specializes in the slot, his speed allows him to create separation when lined up outside, especially when running 9 (go) routes. With his 4.46 40 yard time and unbelievable 6.67 three-cone result (ranked in the 91st percentile), Darden is a speed demon with cutting agility that unlocks another dimension of Tampa Bay's offense.
read more: https://www.si.com/nfl/buccaneers/front-office/tampa-bay-buccaneers-jaelon-darden-scouting-report-nfl-draft
By Coach Andy Mac
DENTON – Senior wide receiver Jaelon Darden enters his final season in Denton with his name on several of the program's career leader charts and is expected to continue to climb. His tireless work ethic and energy spent in the film room is a big reason why one of the most dynamic receivers in the country has been so successful with the Mean Green.
"I'm trying to take that next step to better myself as a teammate," Darden said. "I'm passing as much knowledge as I can to everybody in my room, and also to the DBs. I just want to be able to help everyone get better."
He's taken a lot of the time in quarantine this offseason to focus on film. In addition to his own and film of opponents, Darden has spent a lot of time watching a trio of NFL receivers that he follows often – Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers), Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks) and Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills). He uses their film to understand how they're defended, why they make the reads they do in certain situations and how he can apply that to his own game.
"Those three guys are my favorite because of their ability to be able to create space at the line, which allows them to do what they do afterwards," Darden said. "That's more of my game, so I've been watching them so I can see how they put together different routes, and keep all of my routes and stems the same way, so you would think I'm doing more than what I really am. Making things easier for myself.
"To be honest, that's mainly the most part I'm looking at to see how the DB is playing. Yeah it's cool to see the receiver get open and do this and that, but at the end of the day, I'm looking at the task and the task is what's in front of me with the DB, so I pay a lot of attention to that.
"Say for instance, I line up two yards inside the hash, nine times out of 10 a DB is very anxious – feet are tapping, hands shaking, so I know they are likely in man coverage because there is no reason he would be so nervous if he's just dropping to a zone. Those kinds of things are going to help me take my game to the next level because at the end of the day it's all mental and not so much physical. You could put in all the work you want physically, but at the end of the day if you don't know football, and how it's played, then it's going to be hard for you."
In addition to an increase in the amount of film he watches, Darden has grown a lot as a leader during his three-plus seasons in Denton. So much of his impact among his teammates comes from within. He says his leadership comes naturally and comes from a desire to motivate and hold himself and his teammates accountable.
His teammates noticed right away.
read more: https://meangreensports.com/news/2020/7/3/football-darden-on-his-grind.aspx
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