Falcons Rookie Review: Frank Darby

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This is the seventh installment of a series reviewing Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith’s first draft class in Atlanta, which included a total of nine players. We’ll go chronologically through these draft picks in the order they were selected, concluding the series with the Falcons’ last selection of the 2021 NFL draft.

If you’ve missed any other installments, be sure to check them out! 

Frank Darby is one of three receivers the Falcons still have under contract for 2022, with Calvin Ridley and Austin Trammel being the other two. The Falcons’ top three receivers will all be hitting free agency—Olamide Zaccheaus (57% of offensive snaps), Russell Gage (56%), and Tajae Sharpe (47%).

Darby was only targeted four times this season, hauling in one of those passes for 14 yards. Those targets came on only 20 total offensive snaps—12 of which were in a blowout loss to the Cowboys. Essentially, the rookie had no meaningful snaps on offense, but unless the Falcons completely overhaul the position, Arthur Smith will have to rely on Darby next year.

I wouldn’t expect the Falcons to enter next season without adding some talent at the receiver position, even if Terry Fontenot elects to bring back Zaccheaus, Gage, and/or Sharpe. Still, we should see more of Darby in the Falcons’ offense next season.

Darby’s infectious energy is appreciated among the coaches and players; he’ll undoubtedly have the support of his peers, and the staff, to ascend into a more prominent role. However, it is up to him to improve this offseason. Darby needs to get bigger, faster, and stronger while refining his route running and routine. Learning to be a professional in the NFL is difficult for some players, but Darby seems intent on becoming the best version of himself. Learning from guys like Grady Jarrett, A.J. Terrell, and Matt Ryan should accelerate that process.




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