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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

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.

Brown totaled 305 catches for 3,199 yards (10.5 avg.) and 22 touchdowns at Central Michigan. He also rushed for 531 yards and four touchdowns on 72 carries (7.4 avg.), while returning two kicks and three punts for TDs. The talented Brown also threw a touchdown pass for the Chippewas.

Darden notched 230 catches for 2,782 yards (12.1 avg.) with 33 touchdowns at North Texas. A whopping 19 of those TDs came last season when he had 74 catches for a career-high 1,190 yards (16.1 avg.) as a senior.

Last week, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians compared Darden to another former Pittsburgh receiver in Emmanuel Sanders.

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.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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: sr@pewterreport.com
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fredster
3 months ago

I said early on this kid in 4th and the Hainsey in 3rd were only two players I’m very excited about SO FAR. Not to say rest suck of course only time will tell. The other picks just don’t thrill me so far. If we hit on Tryon and He works out then this might be a better draft than I think. The knee issue hasn’t helped my thoughts on him. Arians said we wouldn’t take “opt out guys” unless had good reason. Ok what’s his good reason? Did he ever say? He hasn’t played in so long and knee… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by fredster
drdneast
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

Yes BA did say. He was impressed with his film, stats and times. Felt he got better in 2019 as the season went on. Said he burst off the tape. Need anything else. IMO Licht has only blown one No. 1 pick and that was Hargreaves in that dreadful 2016 draft.
If are picks one three and four can make some noticeable impact this season if needed that would be icing on the cake.
If Trask wasn’t a No. 2 I doubt he would beat out Griffin for the No. 3 QB position. What a waste of a pick.

TCB2W!
Reply to  drdneast
3 months ago

Oh great something not about Trask and yet you bring him up again. Jesus.

scubog
Reply to  TCB2W!
3 months ago

That poor horse. Seems DrD loves to whip on the dead ones.

toofamiliar17
3 months ago

I think people need to pump the brakes on this kid a bit. They are certainly similarly built with similar skill sets, but Brown is one of the greatest WRs in the history of the league. He was the runaway best WR in the league for a solid half decade. This is an awful lot to put on a green kid due to him playing well in minicamp. Not trying to take anything away from Darden, but come on. It would be awesome if he turns out to be a good NFL WR. Anything better than that would be amazing.… Read more »

TCB2W!
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 months ago

If you saw highlights and interviews of him, then you would be high on him too.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  TCB2W!
3 months ago

I am high on him! I was very happy with the pick, he was a mid to late option that I had highlighted pre-draft as someone to target, a guy I’d be excited if we drafted. I was pumped when we took him. Comparing him to one of the greatest football players of all time (that’s no exaggeration – Brown led the league in receptions, yards, and TDs from 2013 to 2018) is still silly and unproductive, IMO. More or less asking ourselves “do we have a first ballot Hall of Famer who will dominate the league for half a… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 months ago

At least he’s not being compared to Danny Peebles or Dexter Jackson the receiver.

TBChucky
3 months ago

I can see the similarities. I am excited about this kid, but we should let him be his own player. I do have a feeling he’ll make an impact on this team early in his career. Who knows, he could replace AB next season.

PissedOffBuc1988
3 months ago

Darden is an electric player. The bucs have an embarrassment of riches at this position. Evans, Godwin, Brown, Miller, Johnson, and Darden. These players are all playmakers. Not one of them lack big time playmaking ability. And we have gronk, brate, and OJ Howard. Offensive line is in the top 5 in the NFL. This team is stupid talented and the excitement about Darden is indeed warranted Because the absolute last thing the rest of the NFL needs is to worry about how the hell they are going to contain the talent that Darden is. Just watch how he runs,… Read more »

bucballer
3 months ago

It’s awesome to believe that this SuperBowl reigning Champ team will most likely be even better and more talented depth wise than they were last year.

scubog
Reply to  bucballer
3 months ago

And that’s the key. To me the team could actually be better than 2020. Barring injury, I don’t see how it could decline just yet. Just need to be right mentally.

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