Wide Receiver Jaelon Darden A Rookie To Watch This Season In Tampa

Wide Receiver Jaelon Darden A Rookie To Watch This Season In Tampa

Wide receiver Jaelon Darden will impact the Buccaneers in a positive way this season.

As the calendar flips to mid-July, everyone’s attention is slowly shifting to the Buccaneers and the 2021 season as training camp begins on July 24th. 

The Bucs are loaded once again as they return all 22 starters from the 2020 Super Bowl-winning team: a team that dismantled Kansas City 31-9. 

The Bucs will have 90 players on the roster to open training camp. However, very few of those free agents and rookies will have an opportunity to make the roster or make the practice squad. 

There is one player that the Buccaneers drafted that will make this team as a wide receiver. I know what you’re thinking, “The Bucs have the deepest and the best wide receiving group in the league from top to bottom.” 

Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller, and Tyler Johnson will all be on this team in 2021. 

The Bucs need to make room for another addition to that group. That player is none other than the fourth-round pick from North Texas, wide receiver Jaelon Darden. 

Darden is tiny for a wide receiver five feet seven inches tall but makes up for that lack of size with explosiveness and his ability to fake defenders after the catch. 

They called him “The Human Joystick” at North Texas due to his ability to make defenders miss and his shifty moves. 

He set a North Texas record with 19 touchdown catches his senior season. Darden was also the primary punt returner for north Texas the past two seasons.  

So why would the Bucs take a receiver in the fourth round? They already have plenty of talent at that position. 

Two reasons. 

Number one.  

Darden can cause havoc in the vertical passing game, which the Bucs have recently lacked in their offense. 

He has a knack for making the first defender miss with his shifty moves and can also get open downfield for those deep balls. 

Darden forced 23 missed tackles last season with the Mean Green and can be a great slot receiver with the Bucs. Over 25 percent of his yards last year at North Texas came on catches of 20 yards or more. 

Number two. 

Darden can return kicks and punts. If you watched any Buccaneer football games the last two seasons, this is an area that has struggled. Darden can and will improve the Bucs return game. 

Darden was the primary punt returner for the last two seasons at North Texas. 

The Bucs did not draft Darden to be a blocking wide receiver. They drafted Darden for his ability to add another dimension offensively and for his potential to impact the return game.

The Bucs have also not had a solid screen passing game with Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette at running back. Those guys are not the greatest at catching the ball out of the backfield, and it cost the Bucs at times last season. 

Darden has good hands and was used as part of the screen passing game at North Texas. That should not change with the Buccaneers. 

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Ken Filler

I am a passionate sports fan of all sports in Tampa Bay. I was born and raised in NE Ohio as a fan of the Indians, Browns and Cavs. I was a Browns season ticket holder for years and saw a lot of bad football. I moved to Florida in January of 2010, and to the Tampa area in 2012 and thus began my love affair with the Rays, Bucs and Lightning. I am currently a Bucs and Lightning season ticket holder. My favorite leagues to follow are the NFL, NCAA football, NHL, and MLB. I enjoy going to concerts and spending lazy days at the beach.

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