Frank Darby was supposed to have a breakout senior season as the number one receiver at Arizona State following in Brandon Aiyuk‘s footsteps. However, injuries did not allow Darby to have that opportunity. He is a risky pick for NFL teams without much recent tape but boasts a lot of potential as a prospect. Let’s take a look at Darby’s skillset.
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Name: Frank Darby
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Arizona State
Weight: 200 lbs
Darby does not possess blazing speed, but his speed is competent enough to get by in the NFL. He is able to use his quick release and size, rather than speed, to get past defenders and make plays down the field. Darby ran 5.56 and 4.58 40 yard dashes during his pro day.
Darby does not possess elite athleticism but is certainly capable of making plays using his size. Darby made many contested catches at Arizona State because he uses his size well when making the play.
After the Catch (2/10)
After a catch is an area of Darby’s game that he does not produce much in. Darby makes many of his catches using his size and then gets tackled immediately after. As a result, in college, Darby did not produce much after the catch.
Darby’s fluidity is excellent. Since he is not a receiver with elite speed, Darby is forced to be fluid to get past defenders down the field. In press coverage, Darby is able to get past defenders using a set of fluid moves and it is often how he is able to make deep catches often.
Route Running/Separation (8.5/10)
Although Darby does not have elite speed like many other draft prospects, he is able to create separation by using his hands. Darby uses his hands well early on in his routes and then is able to get past defenders with slight movements that shift their momentum. When Darby does not gain enough separation he uses his tall frame to shield off defenders and make catches instead.
#ASU WR Frank Darby built a track record of turning 1-on-1 matchups into boom plays.
🎥1⃣: good hand technique and strength help Darby gain separation.
🎥2⃣: Darby manipulates the cornerback into flipping his hips back outside before cutting on his slant for an uncontested TD. pic.twitter.com/DNr6pLLIkD
— Cole Topham (@HamAnalysis) April 23, 2021
At times Darby is able to make excellent catches but is very inconsistent. He dropped many passes throughout his Arizona State career and also had two drops during the senior bowl. In order to be successful in the NFL, Darby will need to drop fewer passes.
Jayden Daniels throws a DIME!!!!! Frank Darby drops an easy TD pic.twitter.com/zG1kuXh4WQ
— Mike Spencer Hrynyshyn (@MikeH_Draft) July 28, 2020
Contested Catch (8.75/10)
Darby is excellent at making contested catches. He does a very good job at making the most of his tall frame in order to make big-time catches. In this clip during the senior bowl, Darby does an excellent job of using his length to make a tough catch.
ASU’s Frank Darby with a big time catch
— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) January 30, 2021
Darby’s release is one of the best parts of his game. He uses his release to get past defenders since he does not have elite speed. During the one on one’s at the senior bowl and throughout his career at Arizona State, Darby showcased his excellent release many times.
Another beautiful release and finish by Frank Darby, who has been impressive at the Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/NFPu1DB640
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 27, 2021
Darby does not always showcase it well, but he is strong for a receiver. Darby completed 19 bench press reps during his pro day. For reference, the average bench press for the 2018 NFL Draft prospects was 15.
Darby was not tasked to block very much at Arizona State, but when he was asked to do so, he was aggressive. He has a lot of potential as a blocker due to his impressive strength and overall aggressiveness when attempting to do so. Darby will become a much more versatile player if he can become an expert blocker.
Hard fought blocking rep here between Frank Darby and Ambry Thomas. Two of the most physical in these drills matching up pic.twitter.com/NIpVtqTzrU
— Cyril Penn IV (@cyrilpenn4) January 27, 2021
Darby has struggled with injuries throughout his Arizona State career. He was only able to play one and a half games during his senior season due to a rib injury. The injury should not be a major concern for NFL teams but should be noted when evaluating Darby.
As long as Darby can stay healthy, he can be a useful receiver for many NFL teams. He has a high-IQ, tall frame, and is creative with his routes and release. With proper NFL coaching, Darby has the potential to be successful as he continues developing his game.
Final Grade (63.25/100): Mid-Late Fourth Round