When it comes to drafting wide receivers, Bruce Arians has a type.
During Arians’ days in Pittsburgh as an offensive coordinator for the Steelers, the Bucs head coach played a hand in selecting some of the fastest players we’ve seen in football. Santonio Holmes, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown were all impressive picks while drafting in Pittsburgh.
Now fast forward to Arians’ first full-time head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals. There Arians saw the likes of John Brown’s 4.34 40-yard dash and J.J. Nelson’s 4.28 speed burn up the field.
You can also track Arians’ infatuation with drafting speedy receivers to his current stint with the Bucs. First was 2019 sixth-round pick Scotty Miller, a household name to Bucs fans following his infamous NFC Championship touchdown catch before halftime.
The other is the newest addition to the Bucs loaded WR room: 2021 fourth round pick Jaelon Darden. Playing collegiately for North Texas, Darden had a nose for the end zone scoring 19 touchdowns in nine games.
Appearing on the Pewter Report Podcast, Arians was asked about his propensity to take the small, speedy receiver for his offense.
“Those guys have always been successful,” Arians said. “I go back to Pittsburgh, we picked Santonio Holmes first, we picked Emmanuel Sanders, we picked Mike Wallace in the third, we got Antonio Brown in the fifth or sixth. Guys who have great quickness getting in and out of cuts. No wasted movement, great hands, 40 times don’t have to be 4.3, but they play really fast.”
Arians went as far as to compare Darden to one of the Pro Bowl receivers that he previously coached while explaining what he likes about his newest skill player.
“When you look at Jaelon on tape, he plays really fast,” Arians said. “And he catches the ball so easily away from his body so he can play fast. He’s not thinking about catching the ball. Those type of guys – Jaelon really reminds me a lot of Emmanuel [Sanders] when Emmanuel was a rookie. He’s got some AB in him too.
“It’s a nice combination to have. When you’ve been in it as long I have and you’ve seen the number of guys’ body types and who they remind you of – man, the sky’s the limit for this kid. This kid, as a punt returner, he catches it easily and makes the first guy miss. It’s going to be great battles for the guys we have and the guys we brought in.”
You can watch the full episode of the Pewter Report Podcast with Arians below.