With the 2021 NFL Draft approaching, the Cleveland Browns will have their own tastes and board based on what they are trying to do in every phase of the game. Based on what is known about what they want to do, some prospects stand out as fits including Jaelon Darden, wide receiver from North Texas.
Age: Unavailable. Graduated in four years.
Measurables: Listed 5'9" 174 lbs
Production: 74 receptions, 1,190 yards (46.4 percent), 19 touchdowns in 2019.
Arguably the best player in all of Conference USA, Jaelon Darden was a one man wrecking crew, scoring at least one touchdown in every game of their season.
Darden's electric with game breaking speed and tremendous feet, agility and balance. He's the type of player that terrifies defenders left on an island to cover him because he can be so unpredictable. Darden can simply run past everyone and catch a ball 50 yards down the field or make the same tackler miss twice on the same run, working his way down the field.
So much of Darden's game is based on how fast he is, both in a straight line and making opponents miss that he will catch a defender completely unprepared when he lowers his shoulder and plows right through them.
Whatever he measures in terms of his height, it's tall enough to be the fastest player on the field by a significant margin in every game he plays. He's able to play in the slot or out wide as a threat to take the top off of a defense. Darden is always a threat to go deep on a scramble drill and create explosive plays for an offense.
His balance is incredible and at times his knees will almost rub against the ground when he's making cuts and accelerating into space. He's quick enough that there are times when he appears to turn the wrong way with the ball in his hands, but is still athletic enough to make the defender miss and score.
Darden did not face a high level of competition which will be held against him. None of that changes the fact he's able to get to his top speed almost instantly and give anyone trying to catch him fits.
He wasn't asked to block at North Texas. He would simply become a smoke screen and scare opponents into covering him. That's not likely to change in the NFL.
For the Browns, he could become a terrific package player initially. Put him in the slot or out wide and let him scare the opponent with his speed. He can be a deep threat or get manufactured touches in the form of quick passes that allow him to operate after the catch.
With a team like the Browns who likes to utilize tight ends, they can isolate Darden or put him in motion to find advantageous matchups to create instant offense. If press corners fail to land their jam, he will punish them. Long corners will have a difficult time flipping their hips and keeping up with his feet.
Where the Browns Might Select Him: Darden could end up going on day two of the NFL Draft, but because of the small school competition and just the amount of receivers in this class, it wouldn't be a surprise if he gets to the third day. At that point, the Browns can grab him.