Lofty Comparisons For Jaelon Darden

June 3rd, 2021

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich.

These are the types of comparisons that, if off the mark, come back to haunt the source.

And this time the source is Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. The comparison? Leftwich dared to compare rookie receiver Jaelon Darden to a guy who may be in the Hall of Fame someday.

That would be Bucs receiver Antonio Brown.

Now few who collect paychecks from Team Glazer know Brown better than Leftwich. After all, Leftwich is both a former teammate of Brown’s and now his coach. Leftwich used to throw him passes once upon a time.

So this isn’t like some drunk at the end of the bar spouting off. There’s credibility here.

But comparing a fourth-round pick who has yet to take a snap in the NFL to a borderline Hall of Fame player? Yes, Leftwich went there today during a Zoom conference call with the local pen and mic club.

“It’s all over the college tape, it’s all over the college tape,” Leftwich said of Darden’s Brown-like abilities. “I was a big fan of [Darden’s college play]. He’s not a big guy but a small guy who can pluck the ball. Very fast. Very similar — mannerisms are very similar to AB.

“I think [it is] good that he is in the same room with [Brown]. Skillsets are similar.”

Some might say this is reckless to set up a rookie like this. Leftwich seemed to sense he may be raising the bar awfully high on Darden.

“Obviously, that’s a big order to put on anybody,” Leftwich said comparing Darden to Brown. “I just remember what AB being a rookie. … They are very similar. They are very similar football players.”

Again, few, with the possible exception of Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians (who never threw a pass to Brown), know Brown like Leftwich. So if we can take Leftwich’s words as Gospel and look at history, we shouldn’t expect much if anything from Darden this season from a receiving standpoint.

As a Bucs rookie in 2010, Arrelious Benn had better numbers than Brown did in his first season. But in his second season, Brown blew up and was on his way to being one of the most dangerous receivers in the game.

Joe sort of expects that with Darden, at least the rookie season element. Joe doesn’t know how Darden sees the field as a receiver much as a rookie — unless he balls out so much in practice that he begins to shame people and the Bucs can’t get him off the field.

If that is the case, then that’s the latest steal by Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht.

25 Responses to “Lofty Comparisons For Jaelon Darden”

  1. BucDan Says:

    Not going to lie, I feel like Darden’s foot movement is definitely a fitting comparison to AB’s. His ability to move his feet and maintain his balance, speed and explosiveness does resemble AB.

    Can he show it on the NFL field? Time will tell.

    This is why this Bucs fan enjoys the preseason! Extra time and eyes on players like Darden.

  2. August 1976 Buc Says:

    I would not be surprised if he gets 5-6 Tds this year from Returns+ Receptions.
    They are going to run some fly routes with this guy, and are going to hit on some of them.
    What if you have Scotty and Darden go out on the same play, SPEED GALORE. That would be a headache for defensive Coordinators lol
    Again Brady is going to hit a few deep passes with this guy this year.
    A Benn WHO?? NOT!!!!! I liked Benn and wish he had not gotten injured, but I believe this kid will have a bigger impact when all said and done.


  3. Redblud Says:

    Man, you’re tripping. Darden will definitely see the field a lot as a rookie. I’m even willing to to be that if all are healthy, he will play more than Johnson, easily more than Miller. We’re going to see a lot of 4 wide, and in 3 wide, when one of the top 3 sits, it’s going to be Darden that gets the call. This guy is legit. I don’t see Johnson and Miller the way most fans see them. Johnson is a great blocker but leaves a lot to be desired as a playmaking receiving threat. Miller can’t do squat on a football field but run and make a handful of deep catches. Besides that, he is not very good at all. Darden will see plenty of playing time.

  4. Mike Says:

    Yeah, Darden is going to be a new toy for Brady and the offense. His ability to break off routes at full speed and use his shiftiness in space is going to be on display.

  5. SB Says:

    But comparing a fourth-round pick who has yet to take a snap in the NFL to a borderline Hall of Fame player?

    LOL AB was taken in the sixth round!!!!
    How DARE he compare a fourth rounder to a sixth rounder!!!!!!!

  6. Pewter report Says:

    Fair when comparing style. Obviously not comparing stats. Brown want a high draft pick either so brown put in the work to get where he is, Darden has the same opportunity just not making a major impact this year with this loaded roster

  7. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Is Leftwich saying Darden will be AB replacement after the season? Hope so…his college tape is impressive.

  8. Buc50 Says:

    He’s definitely got some juice. Comparisons can wait until he makes the 53 man but his tape is fire.

  9. Redblud Says:

    Buc50 Says:
    June 3rd, 2021 at 2:14 pm
    He’s definitely got some juice. Comparisons can wait until he makes the 53 man but his tape is fire.


    There is zero chance, barring injury, he doesn’t make the 53 man roster

  10. Show Me the TDs Says:

    Run at 3/4 speed until the Rams’ game, then “Unleash the Darden!!”

  11. Cobraboy Says:

    From what I saw on tape, Darden is not just fast, but he’s also *sudden.*

  12. pick6 Says:

    so in 2 years or so, we will have an Andrew Luck clone throwing to an Antonio Brown clone. this is one bullish coaching staff

  13. Buc50 Says:

    @Redblud, I stopped expecting the obvious long ago. I prefer to wait and see before I get excited.

  14. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    Looking forward to some Dardend-arounds.

  15. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    Take it from a die hard Bucs and UNT fan: Darden has waaaaaay more utility than Scotty. He will absolutely take snaps from Miller. This kid is many times the football player that Miller is.

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I suspect we will see plenty of Darden……

    So….we have Johnson Godwinlike…. & Darden Brownlike…..the future is now.

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    You all do realize that Darden was a FOURTH Round pick, right?

    The rook has speed, quickness and good hands, three fantastic attributes for a receiver and/or returner. But he’s not the biggest receiver out there (5’8″ & 173 lbs) and durability will be an issue (like it is for all returners?).

    I’m hoping like everyone else that he turns out to be ‘a diamond in the rough’ but let’s not put undue pressure on the young man by comparing him to potential HOFers like Antonio Brown. At least not until he’s caught at least ONE pass in a real NFL game. Trying too hard to MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN instead of letting the play ‘come to you’ is oftentimes the easiest way to get yourself injured in my experience. Let’s let Darden be Darden IOW.

  18. Darin Says:

    He is just saying AB will be replaced by Darden next year. Tolerate him until you can replace him

  19. 813bucboi Says:

    agree with SB

    GO BUCS!!!!

  20. SB Says:

    Absolutely 813! Go Bucs!!!

  21. gotbbucs Says:

    That was the first comparison that I made in my head watching Darden’s college tape. Playing style wise they are almost identical.

    If he can catch on somewhat quickly to the NFL game….look out this season. The offense really has no excuse to be anything less than a top 2 or 3 unit.

  22. MarkRIf Says:

    AB at 5’10” 185 lbs has been surprisingly durable over his career, but Darden is 5’8″ 173. He’s got serious juice but can he really hold up physically?

  23. MarkR Says:

    At 5’10” 185 lbs AB has been surprisingly durable over his career. Darden however is 5″8″ 173lbs. He’s got serious juice but can he really hold up physically?

  24. Pickgrin Says:


    Nice one Bellingham Bucs Fan

  25. Baby Grace Says:


    “From what I saw on tape, Darden is not just fast, but he’s also *sudden.*”

    Darden isn’t really that fast 4.47, but neither is or was Brown 4.57. However; they both possess major quicks, suddenness, burst and exceptional hands. It’s too early to tell if he is even in the conversation of being compared to Brown before even playing a game much less a season against grown a$$ men. If Darden can be even 90 percent of what Brown was in his prime we will have a great addition to the Bucs.