Amara Darboh played for four years at Michigan, but only had meaningful playing time his last three years. Each year, he improved, starting with his sophomore season. He had 36 receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns. His junior year, he upped those numbers to 58 catches for 727 yards and five touchdowns. His best year was his senior season where he had 57 catches for 862 yards and seven touchdowns.
Darboh has good size for a receiver. Just a smidge shorter than 6’2” and 215 lbs, he’s another big bodied receiver and barrel chested, much like James Washington. He has good speed (timed at a 4.45 40), and nice explosion with a 36” vertical and over 10 ft. in the broad jump.
The Seattle Seahawks liked him so much, they drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Darboh hasn’t seen much success since yet in the pros. His only statistics came from 2017 where he caught eight balls for 71 yards. With his limited success thus far as a professional, let’s take a look at his college tape to see what kind of receiver he could be.
0:09 Not sure where he lined up (X?), but he ran a fly pattern. The ball is slightly overthrown, and Darboh makes a nifty play turning to the football and securing it, one handed, before getting his trailing hand up to secure the catch. Nice athleticism.
0:18 Looks like he lines up as the X and runs a drag across the back of the end zone. The ball is thrown low, away from the defender and he has to go low to catch it. Oddly enough, he only gets one hand under the ball, and kind of traps it one handed with his inner elbow and his body. Officially, this is another one handed catch.
0:31 Probably another fly route from the X. He’s well defended and can only get one arm on the ball, where he again uses the inside of his elbow and his body to secure the catch. He does a good job of getting his other hand on the ball before he hits the ground to secure the catch.
0:42 Hitch and go from the Z. Nice basket catch with both palms on the ball with his pinkies together.
0:52 Probably runs from the X, but does run a shallow drag. This looked like a right armed body catch. He then turns upfield and shows his speed as he beats the defender to the end zone for the touchdown.
1:00 From the X running a post. Finds the space nicely between the zones, and catches the ball with another right armed body catch using only one arm and the inside of his elbow to secure the catch.
1:09 Looks like a post from the Z or right slot. Has good separation for an uncontested catch, but I don’t like his hands here. His palms are not parallel, as the finger tips of his left hand make a T shape with his right palm. Elbows are way out on this basket catch, and I think he traps the ball with his body to secure the catch.
1:18 Z and runs a 10-yard out into the end zone. No one covers him. Faces the ball, wide open, and makes a body catch.
1:25 Looks like another fly from the X. Gets his left hand and palm on the ball before securing it against his chest with one hand.
1:41 X running a fly. This time, he does a fantastic job of facing the football. He gets both palms on the football, thumbs together and jumping to high point it, and uses his body to shield the defender. This is my favorite hand technique catch from him so far.
1:48 In the X close to the end zone and runs a slant. No one picks him up. It looks like he hops a little and catches it with his gut for another body catch.
1:55 Z and runs a fly. Diving catch, only gets one arm on it for his patented “one armed inside elbow against the body” catch. Nice hand checking with the defender to get a shot at that ball.
2:04 Deep post (X?). He’s well defended on a 50/50 ball and traps the ball with his right hand against his right shoulder/chest. He really likes using one arm to catch balls!
2:14 Runs a deep post from the X. I can’t see his hands since his back is facing the camera, but his elbows are in close to his body, so it looks like an over the shoulder body trap.
2:26 X or right slot. Runs a square in, then straight up for a fly. My old coach called it a chair route. The throw was behind him, which is too bad. He had his man beat deep. He adjusts his route nicely to slow his speed and works back to the football for another body catch.
2:33 Must be an X running a fly since he’s right against the sideline. Over the shoulder catch and pins it against his chest for another body catch.
Watching Darboh’s film, I do not like his hand placement at all. He has no mechanics and loves catching with his body. Much like Cobi Hamilton did when he played with the Steelers. He does have a large frame, and he is a little too reliant on it to catch the ball for him.
After seeing this tape, I’m a bit surprised that he was drafted on day 2. He would have been a day 3 grade for me. His routes are limited to deep patterns. His hands need to be better to be a slot/short crossing possession receiver. He also gives you nothing on special teams as a gunner or returner. Right now, he looks like he is another deep Z receiver, when we just cut Tevin Jones who could at least play some slot. I’m honestly surprised that the Steelers thought he was a better option than Eli Rogers, who is still living in town, and has excellent hand technique. (UPDATE 12/18: Eli Rogers signed with the DC Defenders of the XFL, and is therefore unavailable to be signed.)
If the Steelers think they have a Tevin Jones replacement here, they may be disappointed when more balls hit the ground due to his poor hand placement.
Do you see something else in Darboh’s game that I’m missing? Leave your comments below.