Many were excited when the Buccaneers chose Jaelon Darden with their fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and for good reason. The youngster brings a specific skill set that the Bucs don't really have anywhere else on the roster.
But the Bucs weren't the only coaching staff or team enamored with what Darden can do with the ball in his hands. New York Giants special teams coach Thomas McGaughey has been aware of what Darden can do for years now. So it's no surprise to him that Darden landed in a place like Tampa Bay.
McGaughey spoke on Darden this past Thursday and heaped a ton of praise on the Bucs' rookie receiver.
"I've watched this kid for a long time," McGaughey told reporters on Thursday. "I watched him all through the COVID year because my son worked out at the same place where he worked out. He's from Eisenhower High School in Houston and they work with this guy named Richard Whitfield, footwork king, and this kid is lightning quick. He is lightning fast, he could stick his foot in the ground, change direction, he's dangerous. I've seen him for a while, we watched him coming out, we liked him coming out, but he is lightning quick. He has some game-changing, big play ability."
The Bucs have seen some of that big play ability in the form of a 43-yard punt return against the Bears and a 29-yard reception in the Washington game. Darden has also been featured on a couple of end-arounds/jet sweeps and has been pretty effective there, as well.
Tampa Bay made need some of that ability on Monday night. Antonio Brown will miss his fourth straight game, so don't be surprised if you see a few balls come Darden's way.
Overall, Darden has five receptions for 40-yards, one carry for 11-yards, six kickoff returns for 133-yards (22.2 ypr), and seven punt returns for 75-yards (10.7 ypr) on the year.
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