I don’t think anyone would say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a wide receiver deficiency. Still, with Antonio Brown noticeably absent from the roster heading towards the 2021 NFL Draft, there’s no reason to think the team wouldn’t consider adding more positional depth at the end of the month.
With this in mind, we add Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Frank Darby to our list of draft prospects. Following Tulane’s Cam Sample earlier, Minnesota defensive back Benjamin St-Juste, Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith, and Washington Huskies defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike, I get my second look at an offensive prospect.
FRANK DARBY COLLEGIATE CAREER
Frank Darby played all four years with Arizona State, although his 2020 season was just two games.
In his first three, Darby went up in production each season capping out at 31 catches for 616-yards and 8 touchdowns in his 2019 Junior campaign. Not bad considering he was playing with future NFL talents Brandon Aiyuk (San Francisco 49ers) and N’Keal Harry (New England Patriots).
His collegiate career isn’t going to garner him a lot of high expectations entering the league, but it was good enough to get him invited down to Mobile, Alabama for the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
At the Senior Bowl Darby could be easily picked out on the practice field because of his energy and his playmaking ability. Although his energy did slightly outdo his prowess on the field.
He matched up well in drills and looked confident no matter where the pass was placed. On day one alone I witnessed Darby make a really impressive catch against a much longer defender on a throw which came in high and behind him. He not only came down with the ball, but made it look easy in the process.
I was really hoping to see him get more slot work, but most of what I saw was from the outside.
Still, Darby came out of Mobile a winner, and certainly helped his NFL Draft stock.
PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS
Unfortunately, Darby lost his mother between the Senior Bowl and his Pro Day at Arizona State. Armed with the knowledge his mother wanted to see her son reach his goals, and the fact he still has family to take care of, Darby went out and had a good showing.
His numbers aren’t going to catapult him into overdraft position, but what he did put up is going to secure his spot as a clearly draft-able player with the work ethic, energy, and role player potential any NFL team could use in their pursuits for a Lombardi Trophy.
Official results from @ASUFootball pro-day on WR Frank Darby. Couldn't find a pic for this graphic where Frank wasn't smiling. Dude has unreal energy!— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 29, 2021
Hand 9 3/8
Arm 31 3/4
BP 19 reps pic.twitter.com/lljHw4kweE
WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021
Even though I didn’t see as much as I wanted out of the slot in Mobile - keep in mind I wasn’t there to watch Darby exclusively - I know he has potential there as a stronger short area player with deep speed potential.
His ability to play on the outside only adds versatility, and his energy supports his leadership role in college which points all arrows to Darby being a guy who would play linebacker if his coaches asked him to.
He doesn’t look like a guy who will take over for any Bucs receiver specifically, but more brings another layer of options for Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich when designing their offense from a week-to-week outlook.
I wouldn’t count Darby out of the conversation as a guy who can develop into a solid starting receiver. That said, I see third option being his ceiling. In today’s NFL that’s a starting job, really.
What he’s been asked to do he does really well. If he lands with the right coaching staff who knows how to accentuate his strengths while building up his weaker areas as much as they can, then he’ll have a nice long career as a fan favorite.
Of course, he’s also going to have the occasional two touchdown game which completely upsets your fantasy football roster.
His energy and effort are day one qualities. Beyond this, there’s enough inconsistency and concern over his ability to be a reliable target which will land him somewhere on day three.
Some say fourth round, others say fifth. I think either way he’s going in the top half of day three, and I don’t see much to suggest he may sneak into the end of day two.
Never underestimate the willingness of teams to jump up and grab ‘their guy’ though. Especially in a year where the shallow end of the talent pool is particularly unappetizing.
ON THE CLOCK...
Speaking of, this is where Bucs Nation comes in. Taking a look at the roster, the fit, and the projections.
For Frank Darby, the Buccaneers should...
This poll is closed
...draft him at current projection (end of fourth round)
...draft him early (trade up to early fourth or late third)
...take a better player, earlier
...draft this position, but later
...not draft this position group at all