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2021 NFL Draft scouting report: Arizona State WR Frank Darby

With their last pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Falcons grab big play potential.

Sacramento State v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Certain receivers have been able to make the most of their NFL opportunities despite being drafted late. Normally the odds of making an NFL roster and being a reliable contributor early on is pretty low for those drafted late on day three. In recent seasons, though, David Moore of Seattle, Scotty Miller of Tampa Bay, and Jakeem Grant of Miami have found ways to get drafted in the sixth round or later and have still been able to make some kind of real impact early in their careers.

The Atlanta Falcons may have found the next prospect in line to make a name for himself as a late draftee. At 187th overall in this year’s draft, the Falcons selected a playmaking receiver out of Arizona State who made his name at the collegiate level with big plays and an even bigger personality.

Frank Darby Scouting Report

Height: 6’0

Weight: 201 lbs

Career stats: 67 receptions, 1,317 yards, 19.1 yards per catch, 13 touchdowns

Games watched: 2018 vs. San Diego State, 2019 vs. Oregon, 2019 vs. USC, 2021 Senior Bowl practice/game

Strengths

When it comes to creating fireworks on the offensive side of the ball, Darby has a penchant for doing so in a big way. For his career, Darby averaged 19.7 yards per catch. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Darby averaged 20.0 and 19.9, respectively, in yards per reception. So yes, Darby is considered a bit of a “one-trick pony,” but Darby is also pretty good at that one trick. Darby has solid NFL size at roughly six feet and 200 pounds and is a tough-minded pass catcher who will compete for every catch thrown in his direction.

Darby has shown plenty of ability to win contested catches and 50/50 jump balls. His hand usage and physicality allows him to have his fair share of wins off the line against corners who play tight man coverage against him. Darby has solid “build-up” speed, a prime reason why he is able to beat 1-on-1 coverage deep. Darby also showcases solid YAC ability in the open field and turns into a running back when he has to run in traffic. He also brings enough game day energy to power several players, and is constantly seen actively involved in games picking up energy levels for teammates while on the sidelines and the field.

Weaknesses

Darby has only 28 games of experience at the collegiate level and just 67 total receptions to show for it. So his overall development is loaded with questions. Can he improve as a route runner at the next level? He did not show an extensive set of tools for his route running ability in college.

Darby tested at this Pro Day with a 4.56 40-yard dash, which is not necessarily concerning for opposing defenses. Route separation is also a notable question mark at the next level, and may not be a consistent staple of his as a professional. Some scouts wonder if his production was a product of playing alongside N’keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk in 2018 and 2019.

Conclusion

This was one selection which caused plenty of intrigue and excitement for me, even as a late sixth rounder. That’s simply because when you mesh the overall ability of Darby and what he provides with the abundant amount of talent already on the Falcons offensive depth chart, it is tough to not be thrilled with where he can take his career.

When Arizona State needed a big play via the pass, they often looked in the direction of Darby. The production and film show that when given the opportunity, Darby knows how the make the most of it. He will probably have to earn his keep early on as a relied upon special teamer but there is no doubt that if Darby carves a niche on offense, he will help the Falcons offense reach newer heights.

There is definite big play potential with Darby in a scheme that is not going to ask a lot from him right away. If he makes the roster and properly develops, we may be asking five years from now “how did the Falcons get Darby in round six?”