Amari Rodgers, Clemson, Wide Receiver
The son of former Tennessee and NFL quarterback Tee Martin nearly signed with USC, where Martin was coaching at that time. He decided to move from Knoxville to Clemson, however, as a top-100 national recruit and two-time Tennessee Mr. Football Award winner. Rodgers played in 14 games as a true freshman (19 receptions, 123 yards, 6.5 average; two punt returns, 15 yards, 7.5 average) before moving into the starting lineup for all 15 games during the team’s national championship season. He garnered honorable mention All-ACC honors as an all-purpose player in 2018 (55 receptions, 575 yards, 10.5 average, four touchdowns; 39 punt returns, 299 yards, 7.7 average, one touchdown). Rodgers suffered a torn ACL the following March but only missed one game of his junior year (10 starts in 14 appearances) to garner honorable mention all-conference accolades as a receiver (30 receptions, 426 yards, 14.2 average, four touchdowns) and all-purpose player (18 punt returns, 151 yards, 8.4 average, two rushes, 50 yards, one touchdown). With the departure of Tee Higgins and the loss of Justyn Ross due to injury, Rodgers became Trevor Lawrence’s top target in 2020, leading the Tigers with 77 receptions and 1,020 receiving yards (13.3 per) while tying for the team lead with seven touchdown catches. The first-team All-ACC selection also scored once as a rusher (2-50-25.0) and returned punts (nine returns, 64 yards, 7.1 average). He accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. — by Chad Reuter
“Compact slot target who thrived at Clemson with his ability to create chunk plays out of short catch-and-runs and take the top off defenses with his speed. Rodgers has a running back’s stout lower body, providing power and balance to break tackles and rumble through contact with the ball in his hands. His ball skills are pretty good, but he can go from magnificent catch to focus drop in a single drive. Rodgers uses speed alterations inside the route and a sudden burst to top speed to create deep separation from coverage. He’s not as effective at separating underneath against tight man coverage and will need to prove himself in that regard.” -NFL.com
“Amari Rodgers was a factor in 2018 and 2019 but saved his best for last as he hauled in 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns during his final campaign at Clemson in 2020. The veteran of the receiving corps in 2020, Rodgers was the go-to guy for the Tigers’ offense during his last season. Rodgers is a slot receiver that is built like a running back. He thrived with manufactured touches and then using his physicality, burst, vision, and decisiveness to work after the catch. As his production increased as a senior, so did his role in the offense. 2020 saw Rodgers produce more down the field in addition to his work in the short to intermediate areas of the field. He has reliable hands, plays a physical brand of football, and is a good athlete. When it comes to identifying areas of growth for Rodgers, developing his route tree and finding more consistency when challenged at the catch point stand out. Rodgers lacks length and struggles to extend his catch radius which creates some limitations. Rodgers has a chance to be a featured slot receiver in the NFL for an offense predicated on timing.” -The Draft Network
“Rodgers is another player Green Bay would have to bend its “rules” for—he would not meet the height threshold. He’ll likely end up as a long-term primary slot receiver. Clemson didn’t run the ball with Rodgers a ton, but when they did it was very efficient. He’s a “manufactured touches” kind of player, but his running-back build and ability after the catch is special. Many of those touches were manufactured because Rodgers didn’t consistently create separation. As a gadget player, Rodgers also returned a large volume of punts at Clemson but was not incredibly successful.” – from Andy Herman in the CheeseheadTV 2021 Draft Guide
FIT WITH THE PACKERS:
Packers fans, this is your slot receiver. I spoke with Rodgers at Clemson’s pro day and this is what he had to say about a potential fit in Green Bay.
“I definitely see myself as a Randall Cobb-type of player being used in the slot, jet sweeps, and the return game as well.”
The Packers traded up from 92 to 85 to get Rodgers. Knowing they needed another wide receiver, Green Bay picked their first one since 2018. He totaled 181 receptions for 2,144 yards and 15 touchdowns in four seasons. Rodgers predominately lined up in the slot where he showcased his footwork and reliable hands. The Packers definitely strayed away from their typical size requirements, as Rodgers stands at just 5’9″. However, he is extremely muscular and has a compact build. Built like a running back, at his pro day, he took handoffs out of the backfield to show his versatility. Not sure he will do that in the NFL, but he is able to slip tackles and put on the jets in the open field. In a gadget role, Rodgers will be a natural playmaker. Just get the ball in his hands and watch him work. From the slot, he will be a weapon in the quick game. Rodgers can also test defenses deep with his ball tracking and ability to rise up and snare passes. Not to mention, he also has experience as a punt returner. On 68 returns, Rodgers totaled 529 yards, one touchdown, and a 7.8 average. In Rodgers, Green Bay will have a dynamic weapon that can play a variety of roles.
First off, Rodgers is really good value in the third round. Second, finally, the Packers have addressed receiver, and they traded up to do so. Green Bay moved up seven spots to select the Clemson wideout, so they were clearly high on him. Rodgers is a guy who can separate on his own and create after the catch. He’s not identical to Cobb, but their playstyles are similar. He will be a great compliment to Davante Adams and the rest of the receiving core. Rodgers is a true slot, which they haven’t had since Cobb in 2018. It will be interesting to see how Matt LaFleur plans to get him involved, but right away he has the ability to contribute on special teams.
Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.