Do the Bucs have another Antonio Brown-type player waiting in the wings? That’s what Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said about rookie wide receiver Jaelon Darden, comparing him to Brown, who turns 33 next month.
“It’s all over the college tape,” Leftwich said about Darden. “I was a big fan of his. He’s not a big guy, but a smaller guy that can pluck the ball. He’s very fast. His mannerisms are very similar to A.B.
“Obviously that’s a big order to put on anybody, but I just remember A.B. being a rookie, being a player on that team. They are very similar. Very similar football players.”
Leftwich should know. He was a backup quarterback with the Steelers from 2010-12 and threw the ball to Brown regularly in practice and in the preseason. Brown signed with Tampa Bay midway through last year and recorded 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He added a two more touchdowns in the postseason, including one in Super Bowl LV.
Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: USA Today
Both receivers were Day 3 picks with Brown as a sixth-round selection by Pittsburgh in 2010. The Bucs traded up to get Darden in the fourth round in April.
Brown is slightly bigger at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, while Darden checks in at 5-foot-8, 174 pounds. Both receivers do their damage with sticky hands and electric footwork. Even their college production was similar.
Time will tell if Darden can come close to becoming the caliber of receiver that Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, has been over his 12-year NFL career. But Leftwich likes that Darden can learn from one of the game’s all-time greats first hand.
“I think it’s good that he’s in the same room as him,” Leftwich said. “Skill sets are similar.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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