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Frank Darby Scouting Reports

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NFL.com gives him a 5.97, making him the best pick we've had today by their grading.

Darby is looking to make this the third straight NFL draft that includes a Sun Devil receiver. In fact, Arizona State has had first-round receivers in each of the last two drafts -- N'Keal Harry (2019, New England) and Brandon Aiyuk (2020, San Francisco). Darby was named ASU's Co-Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year during his 2016 redshirt season. He started 11 of 13 games played in 2018 (21 receptions, 421 yards, 20.0 average, two touchdowns) after playing in 10 games as a reserve (nine receptions, 234 yards, 26.0 average, two touchdowns; 21-yard rushing TD) in his redshirt freshman year. He looked like a strong prospect in 2019, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 while tying for the team lead with eight receiving touchdowns (31 receptions, 616 yards, 19.9 average) in 13 starts. He played in all four games of his senior season, starting three as a team captain but receiving limited touches after suffering a rib injury early in the year (six receptions, 46 yards, 7.7 average, one touchdown). He accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. -- by Chad Reuter

Good size and speed but a scouting report filled with ball-skill concerns. Darby's deep-ball production is unquestioned, but he's one of the rare prospects who can look very good or very bad when tracking throws down the field. His top-end speed will create cushions and open up some intermediate throws for him, but the route-running still needs work. The biggest concern is that he really struggles to secure throws outside his frame. Catching the football is the name of the game, so the speed might land him on a roster, but he needs to improve his basic ball skills to stick around.
  • Impressive deep-ball talent.
  • Averaged over 20 yards per catch over first three seasons.
  • Nearly 20 percent of his catches resulted in touchdowns.
  • Intimidating build-up speed to separate.
  • Strong legs help play through heavy route redirection.
  • Gains ground on his terms.
  • Quick to stack and separate on deep throws.
  • Will work his way back to the quarterback on second-level routes.
  • Tough and fast after the catch.
  • Locks up with strong inside hands when blocking in run game.
  • Lower-level volume as a pass catcher.
  • Gives away impending route breaks.
  • High drop rate affecting him on all three levels.
  • Has trouble securing throws outside of his frame.
  • Too much body catching.
  • Ball tracking alternates between good and bad.
  • Lacks feel near boundaries to drag feet consistently.
  • Will need to do better at using frame to protect catches underneath.
Sources Tell Us

"He's got a great personality, he's a good kid and he's a good teammate. I think not having Brandon Aiyuk out there really exposed the fact that he's not a primary receiver at all." -- National scout for NFC team
BACKGROUND: Franklin “Frank” Darby grew up in Jersey City, where he was a basketball-focused athlete through middle school and into high school. He started on varsity as a freshman at Abraham Lincoln High School and averaged 11.4 points in his first year.
However, the football coaches convinced him that he could go further in football, and Darby joined the football team as a sophomore, recording 13 catches for 379 yards and six touchdowns. As a senior, he became the first player from Lincoln in 40 years to earn First Team All-State honors, finishing with 35 catches for 957 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Darby also returned kicks and played safety on defense, recording four interceptions over his prep career. He was a three-year starter on the basketball team and also lettered in volleyball.A three-star recruit out of high school,
Darby was the No. 163 wide receiver in the 2016 class and the No. 27 recruit in the state of New Jersey. He initially committed to Iowa as a junior but didn’t sign because of lingering academic issues. Darby got his grades in order before graduation, but Iowa asked him to grayshirt and attend a prep school for a semester despite being NCAA qualified.
He didn’t agree with that route and started looking for another school. He was impressed with Arizona State’s pursuit and committed to the Sun Devils over Boston College and Rutgers. His daughter was born in 2016. Darby graduated with his degree in liberal studies (May 2020), becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. He accepted his invitation to the 2021 Senior Bowl.
STRENGTHS: One of the best ball-tracking receivers in this class...strong strider and picks up speed as he goes (had a higher yards per catch average than Brandon Aiyuk in 2019)...made plays at all three levels of the field (73.1% of his catches resulted in a first downor touchdown)...balanced footwork in his releases and breaks...sticks his foot in the ground to snap off slants/outs...has the body fluidity to flip his hips at the top of his routes...flashes the lateral agility to consistently give the first defender the slip...when he wins over the top, he uses body savvy to block defenders from disrupting the catch point...solidly built and plays bigger than his listed weight, keeping his feet through contact...gets after it as a blocker...senior captain and passionate about life and football (his coaches say he is not only the “loudest,” but also the most “uplifting” voice in the locker room).
WEAKNESSES: Some of the timing elements of his route construction needs to mature...needs to utilize better sink to uncover at the top of routes...guilty of drifting his routes or excessively using his hands downfield...more of a build-up runner than explosive sprinter...needs to clean up his drop rate (11 drops compared to 58 catches the last three seasons)...missed two games as a senior due to a rib injury (November 2020)...briefly left the team and missed the final game (December 2020) due to a family issue with his daughter...older prospect and will be a 24-year old NFL rookie...his career production looks more like a single-season statline.
SUMMARY: A three-year starter at Arizona State, Darby was the X receiver in offensive coordinator Zak Hill’s scheme, taking over the top receiving responsibilities from Brandon Aiyuk (2019) and N’Keal Harry (2018) two first round picks. His sophomore andjunior seasons were building toward a breakout senior year in 2020, but he was limited to just three games due to the pandemic-shortened season and a rib injury. Darby doesn’t have sprinter’s speed, but his build-up acceleration, balanced footwork and rebounding skills allow him to make plays at every level. Although his career production is mediocre, Darby averaged 19.9 yards per catch, and his boundless energy is felt on (and off) the field. Overall, Darby needs to keep pounding the details to become a consistent separator in his routes, but he has downfield skills and is one of the best ball-trackers in this class. He projects as an NFL outside receiver. GRADE: 5th Round
Overview: Virtually invisible throughout the first half of the 2019 season, Darby put the receiving corps on his back throughout the Sun Devils’ final five games, accumulating 16 receptions for 387 yards and seven touchdowns during that span.
His 2020 season was very limited after he suffered an injury in the season opener after looking like he could put together an All-Pac-12 kind of season. Darby is a quick-twitch agility driven type of receiver who also possesses the breakaway play speed wanted in an NFL prospect.
Darby shows that ability when he is asked to run double-move routes, as he combines his route-running ability with his agility, allowing him to get open and make plays down the field.
Darby has solid hands, but sometimes does body-catch passes that will slow him down when trying to run after the catch. He also displays elite tracking ability on deep passes and has no issue adjusting his body to make terrific catches.
Darby will need to improve his consistency overall because even though he went on a warpath at the end of his junior season, he was not a factor before that. The New Jersey native possesses next-level talent, but will need to prove he can be steadily relied upon if he is to be more than a solid backup.
Quote of Note:“The biggest concern is that he really struggles to secure throws outside his frame. Catching the football is the name of the game, so the speed might land him on a roster, but he needs to improve his basic ball skills to stick around.” NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein, on Frank Darby This Spring
Background: Raised in the Newark, New Jersey area. Three-star recruit according to 247Sports. Redshirt. Was mostly overshadowed at ASU by N'Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk, both of whom were first-round picks. His high school and college coaches praised his work ethic and his big smiling personality; he once said,"I want people to think I'm just a walking sun."
Was honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2019, when he had a stretch late in the season with seven TD catches in four games,helping him earn the nickname "Big Game Frank." Redshirted in 2016. Began to emerge as a deep threat as a redshirt sophomore in 2018.
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He may be a wonderful human being, but he's slow.  His aggregate grade was 51st in the WR category.  I hope he balls out, but I'm a little perplexed by this pick.  Just have to see what he does on the field.  

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