With the last two classes of the Pro Football Hall of Fame freshly enshrined we’ve spent the weekend hearing about how important mentoring has been for NFL greats like Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety, John Lynch.
On Monday, we heard from one veteran who has been mentoring one of the newest Bucs, as well as a young linebacker praising two champions for helping him step up his early efforts in the league.
“He’s a young and excited kid,” Antonio Brown said about rookie Jaelon Darden. “He loves football. It’s a pleasure to be around him. He has the fire in his eyes and I’m excited to help him.”
Antonio Brown has been getting plenty of praise this training camp leading many to make the bold statement he may be the best all-around wide receiver on Tampa Bay’s roster in 2021.
Meanwhile, Darden is fighting it out with many other players jockeying for what is likely to be the final spot for a wide receiver on the 2021 active roster. Special teams figures to play a significant role in determining the outcome there, and earlier this off-season the rookie was seen being mentored by veteran return specialist, Jaydon Mickens.
On the other side of the ball, rookie linebacker K.J. Britt stood out in minicamps and OTAs, and now he’s looking to two other NFL stars to help him develop his young aspirations.
“I’ve been able to learn a lot - each day I’m learning,” said Britt. “I’m soaking it up – just the little things that I can take from them (Lavonte David and Devin White) and put into my game. It really helps man – each day just learning – I can feel the growth and I can see the growth on film, so I feel like what I’m soaking up from them is really helping my game.”
Britt continued by saying,
“Really and truthfully just patience – [I] never knew how patient this game was, and then just reacting. I feel like that’s something that I was aggressive with early – just in some situations I’m very aggressive so I’m learning how to be patient and then how to react. And then just helping myself too with concepts. They really know concepts like pass-scheme concepts, run-game concepts. Really and truthfully just soaking up all I can – I mean it’s so much and a lot that I can learn from those guys.”
As draft picks go, neither Britt or Darden would be expected to make much noise back in April. But with the set of mentors leading the rookies down the right path on the field, I don’t think I’d recommend anyone bet against them at this point.