Why in the hell would the Buccaneers draft a wide receiver? They have the best wide receivers in the NFL. No team can boast a trio of receivers like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown.
Let’s start with the return game.
If you’ve watched the Bucs games the last few years, their return game has been awful. They have tried different players from Antonio to Jayden Mickens to Scotty Miller without a lot of success.
In the fourth round of this year’s draft, the Bucs traded up to draft Jaelon Darden, a wide receiver from North Texas who they feel can help them improve the return game.
Darden is quick. I can imagine some money will be wagered and lost during training camp on who can beat who in the 40-yard dash. Scotty Miller has said he is the fastest receiver on the team, but Darden ran a 4.46/40 at his pro day.
Darden also set a record for touchdowns in division 1-A last year with 19.
Darden was a crucial piece in the return game at North Texas and was a big part of the offense.
With his blazing speed, Darden was used a ton in the screen game. Darden was also used on crossing patterns and created a ton of yards after the catch.
What Darden can do effectively in the Bucs offense is what this offense has been missing.
The two elements of the Bucs offense that has been missing are an effective screen game and effective use of a horizontal passing game. With the addition of Darden, the Bucs are hoping to add another dimension to an already explosive offense.
At 5′ 8″ and 174 pounds, Darden will draw comparisons to another Bucs tiny receiver Scotty Miller. Darden’s game has a lot of dimensions to it, where Miller’s game is more vertical.
People have doubted Darden every step of the way in his football journey, which has propelled him to his success.
“It’s kind of played a big part in that. I kind of keep that on my shoulder, and it keeps me going, keeps me motivated. A lot of times working out with a lot of people, I’m still carrying that on my shoulder and still running it in my brain to help myself be able to become a better player each and every time I touch the field.”
Darden will be used as a kick returner and also as a punt returner. Darden averaged 12 yards per punt return with one touchdown during his freshman year in college.
The Bucs will get their first look at Darden and the entire rookie class of 2021 at rookie camp in June st a few weeks.