The Atlanta Falcons needed some more size in their wide receiver room and addressed it with the addition of Arizona State WR Frank Darby in round six. Darby has the ability to instantly usurp Christian Blake for playing time as the primary backup to Julio Jones. Atlanta had too many receivers on the smaller side and Darby is big-bodied, physical route runner.
Athletic Testing and Comparison
Stats and Awards
2020: 4 Games Played, 6 Catches, 46 Yards, 1 Touchdowns
2019: 13 Games Played, 31 Catches, 616 Yards, 8 Touchdowns, 1 Kick Return, 20 Yards, All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention
2018: 13 Games Played, 21 Catches, 421 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
2017: 10 Games Played, 9 Catches, 234 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 1 Carry, 21 Yards, 1 Touchdown
How does Darby fit on the field?
Darby isn’t the best athlete as a wide receiver, but he has enough athleticism to complement his exceptional route running and create the kind of separation that players with more athleticism have trouble creating.
The former Sun Devil has the ability to contribute in the passing game over guys like Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheaus and Russell Gage as a possession receiver the way that Mohamed Sanu used to do. He’s a bit bigger than them, but is a super physical player.
As a blocker, Darby is solid in that aspect and is more than willing. He’s got potential to be a good special teams player. The question is if he’s willing to hit. He’s not a returner in any way, and doesn’t have the athletic profile to be a great returner. Atlanta will likely use him as a gunner and reserve receiver early in his career.
How does Darby fit off the field?
Darby was an emotional leader in Arizona State’s locker room and someone that energizes his teammates. He should fit in well with the culture the Falcons need moving forward. Having a ton of team captains in every draft seems like it’s going to be the norm for this administration, and it’s something to be welcomed.
Why Darby over Sage Surratt and Shi Smith?
Sage Surratt was a good-sized receiver who could have also worked in this spot, but the Falcons decided they wanted someone with better route running. Shi Smith is just a smaller receiver and the Falcons had too many of those. It was a bit of a Goldilocks situation, but Darby just fits what the Falcons do better and will add something to the receiver room.
NFL Stylistic Comparison/Best Case Scenario: Mohamed Sanu
Just like Mohamed Sanu, Darby is an average-sized wide receiver who happens to have great footwork and is a vocal leader behind the scenes. Teams love guys like Sanu and Darby because they may not hit 700 or 800 yards for the team, but they’re just happy to contribute and not worried about stats.