How To Use Jaelon Darden

May 5th, 2021

Bucs WR Jaelon Darden.

Joe was watching YouTube highlights of new Bucs rookie receiver Jaelon Darden and the first thing that popped in Joe’s head was that this guy is very reminiscent of DeSean Jackson.

Minus the baggage and ‘tude.

Joe saw a short guy with serious wheels who could make people miss and get open. And oh yeah, score touchdowns. That’s the name of the game: points.

Now Joe talked to a Bucs fan who suggested there is no way Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians would put Darden at slot because he would get beaten to death.

Then Joe read what the PFF tribe dug up on Darden, which is friggin’ impressive.

Now isn’t it fairly obvious this guy excels in the slot? So why would Arians want this guy lining up anywhere else but slot? Don’t you want to use a guy’s strength?

Joe also knows that Arians covets speed at slot. To be fair, Arians hasn’t often used small receivers at slot. Hines Ward, Larry Fitzgerald, Chris Godwin were all tough guys that could handle themselves in the mosh pits of NFL defenses. Often, specifically in the case of Ward, they dished out as much punishment as they received.

Perhaps Arians tipped off what he will do with Darden when he told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Saturday that Darden was “fearless” going over the middle.

Either way, Joe is geeked to dream about how Darden’s speed will be used by park-violating, home-invading, NFLPA-ignoring, down-forgetting, handshake-stiffing, jet-ski-losing, biscuit-baking, tequila-shooting, smartphone-phobic, waffle-grilling, trophy-throwing, roller-coaster-scared, numbers-rules-peeved Bucs-Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.

29 Responses to “How To Use Jaelon Darden”

  1. Robert Says:

    use him in the slot and returns and end arounds

  2. Ash Says:

    Seems more quick than fast to me his cuts look pretty crazy

  3. DingleBerry Says:

    Darden did indeed line up in the slot 85.9% of the time in college. So he should see some snaps there when Godwin is either lined up outside, taking a breather, or blowouts where the game has already been decided.

    Darden also has tremendous short area quickness/agility, is elusive and is a natural playmaker in the open field so I’d expect the Bucs view him as a guy who can compete with Mickens for the returner job, and for him to be utilized situational in the slot and on WR screens.

    Based on his 7.7% career drop-rate that ranked in the 55th percentile of college receivers, and with the way he struggled to make contested catches I don’t think Scotty Miller (who is much closer to being a Desean Jackson type with legit 4.3 speed) is in danger of losing his role as the main deep threat outside.

    Overall I think we got great value with the Darden pick in the 4th round and I can’t wait to see him make people miss in Pewter and Red.

  4. PSL Bob Says:

    The guy is so shifty that he may be able to avoid some of the hits slot receivers have to absorb. But, he will certainly get his share of bruises in the slot. If he’s used in that capacity, hope he’s not injury prone. I have a feeling they will move him around a lot.

  5. SOEbuc Says:

    Why Scooter is not the depth this guy is when people say we already got so much. Darden can see over the line of scrimmage playing inside. And Jesus talk about stopping on a dime. Beautiful fit for our strong, downfield blocking WR and TE.

    Bling bling Jason 💎

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The main difference between Darden & Scotty Miller is that Miller goes down easy when you touch him……Darden is difficult to touch.
    He can change direction in an instant…..good for the slot
    Line him up wide….put him in motion….reek havoc.

  7. Leighroy Says:

    Probably more of a 3rd down / obv passing situation slot (Y), than a running down slot. Could also see motion sets lined up as a flanker (Z), but yeah split end (X) probably won’t be this guys role.

  8. Ash Says:

    Yeah it is the elusiveness and top end speed that is the difference scotty miller is a straight line speedster darden has crazy stop and go quickness

  9. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Humphries played the slot and was pretty decent. He was quick but did not have top end speed. Godwin excelled because he was a tad bit quicker and a better route runner. While Godwin is bigger and slightly faster via top end speed, Darden is quicker and much more shiftier. Not saying Darden will ever be as good as Godwin in the slot but this option allows Godwin to return to the outside with Evans.

    A four WR set would look like: Evans, Godwin, Anthony Brown and Darden. This would be pretty scary for defenses.

  10. Cobraboy Says:

    Do not be surprised when Godwin & Darden are both slots in 4-wide formations.

  11. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Dumb question but can’t you have two receivers running plays in the slot? I could see this guy kind of playing an Edelman role.

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Love to see this guy on WR screens,..

  13. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Steal of the draft.

  14. Duane Says:

    This is just another player with a unique skillset at the WR position. I dont think the nuance with his use on offense is going to be a BA decision. This is another guy that Brady is going to use to create a mismatch vs scheme, or personnel. This offense may actually run first to start games instead of passing to establish the run. Darden could be a big contributor when/if defenses stack the box. BA’s wisest and smartest career decision could have been when he took a step back and turned the reigns over to the GOAT. I think we will also get a better understanding of Darden’s use if we see him running routes at the High School with Brady.

  15. Perimeter Blocker Says:

    I hope he can be the equivalent of Harris (Saints) for punt returner… Anything else is gravy…

  16. Swampbuc Says:

    Sending Darden and Scotty deep occupies 4 defenders for teams who don’t want to give up the home run, leaving the intermediate routes open for any combination of ME, CG, AB, OJ, Gronk, Brate, Lenny, Gio…….

    Wow. Loving it.

  17. SB~LV Says:

    Punt blocker

  18. I CARE NOW Says:

    Punt Blocker would be an interesting thing to see. I mean, do you rush him up the middle on the edge or both. I could see him slipping through the line easily. Not sure about the edge though.

  19. catcard202 Says:

    I think when it’s all said & done…Darden may turn out to be one of the biggest steals in this draft.

  20. Hodad Says:

    Miller lines up mostly outside, not in the slot. Miller is a deep threat on the outside. Darden won’t be catching balls in the end zone, he’ll be catching short passes, and taking the ball there. Aside from their size, their games aren’t similar.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    Some JBFers seem to be setting the bar way way up there for Darden, but as a rookie he’s got a huge uphill battle just to get offensive snaps on this Super Bowl team. WRs named Evans, Godwin, Brown, Miller & Johnson have already developed a chemistry with Tom Brady, as have certain TEs named Gronk, Brate & OJ. Throw in 4 RBs who’ll all want a share of the 1050-1100 offensive snaps that the Bucs will probably get this year and as I said, Darden will have an uphill battle just to get on the field.

    Got a feeling that BA will want to see him ‘earn’ more snaps by starting out as a punt returner, kick returner and on S/T coverage. Gut feel is that’s what they primarily drafted him for is as a punt returner, but that they’ll certainly be looking closely to see if he has a broader utility beyond that.

  22. SB~LV Says:

    I was thinking of blocking from the edge , he has the moves to get around and to the ball along with creating attention allowing pressure from elsewhere. Just a thought and something to check out in training camp

  23. ncbucsfan Says:

    Darden was Brady’s pick!!! You don’t think all that time Tom spends at One Buc that he didn’t lobby for the receiver he wanted in the 4th? He, Bruce and Jason probably determined before the draft they’d let Tom choose one after viewing the scouts footage. Darden fits Tom’s element of the offense that the Bucs morphed into in the latter part of the season. Darden is Edelman, Welker type slot for Bradys offense. He will be used in 4-wideout sets initially.

  24. Cannon Says:

    40pts a game. Let’s git it.

  25. stephen j burke Says:


  26. Mike Says:

    The NFL is all about matchups. Darden is going to be tough to match up due to his shiftiness. Kinda makes me think of Wes Welker, though it’s probably not the best comparison. At any rate, he’s going to get open.

  27. Buczilla Says:

    I had no idea who this guy was before we picked him. After reading up on him, I was happy as hell. You can never have too many weapons.

  28. Rod Munch Says:

    From what I saw of him, I wouldn’t at all compare him to D-Jax, they’re both quick and shifty guys, but D-Jax has all-world speed, Darden has very good speed. They also play a different style, at least in college. D-Jax played like a small WR, meaning he made a lot of big hit plays, but also could be taken out of a game if you got physical with him. Darden is just more of a typical WR, which isn’t a knock, it just means he doesn’t look to me to play a small mans style. Of course that could change in the NFL, but I really don’t like the comparison. In fact, if anything, I think he’s more of a Humphries type of player, just with more physical tools – so he’s a little quicker and faster.

    One issue in college was drops, I think I read his senior year he had 7 of them (although I’m doing this by memory and could be wrong). If he wants to be that #3 WR next year, he’s going to have to catch and hold onto the ball. A drop or two as a rookie, and with this depth chart, he’s unlikely to see the field again on offense for the rest of the season.

  29. Rod Munch Says:

    Mike – Wes Welker is a good comparison, just with a lot more straight line speed (Welker ran a 4.65 40). Multiple scouting reports I read said Darden would be a good fit for the Patriots, which means he’s a good fit for Brady. He’s a guy that likely is going to be best playing in space and then picking up YAC. Also he’s a guy that should be used on all those gadget plays that Scotty Miller was losing yardage on.

    He’s a legit WR option, not just a return guy. That’s why I like the pick – you don’t spend a 4th rounder on a return guy unless he’s special, and Darden isn’t special on returns. But as a WR, he has a chance I think.