It seems as though an exciting receiver coming out of Clemson is an annual event.
This year many were wondering if the tradition would continue. While Clemson had a strong season and was very productive on offense, they didn’t have that stand-out receiver they’ve boasted in previous years. But we got our answer at the 2021 Senior Bowl, as Amari Rodgers stepped up and helped fill the void caused by DeVonta Smith’s inability to practice or play due to injury.
Rodgers flashed throughout the week of practice and a strong game with 4 receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. That was enough to put him on the national radar and his name on the lips of draft experts.
Was it enough to force scouts back to his tape, and would that be enough to move him ahead of some other receivers as a safer option in an unsure draft?
Prospect: Amari Rodgers
Games Played: 52
Yards (YPC): 2,144 (11.8 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 15
Games Played: 12
Yards (YPC): 1,020 (10.2 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 7
Best: Quickness, agility, explosiveness, ball skills, yards after catch
Worst: Size, long speed, blocking
Projection: A starting slot receiver in a West Coast or Spread offense
Amari Rodgers is a quick, compact, and explosive slot receiver from Clemson University.
Rodgers is a short receiver, but sports good thickness in his upper and lower body, weighing 211 pounds at 5-foot-9 ½ inches. His compact build and quick feet allow him to play with a very low center of gravity and the ability to change direction quickly, as well as use his explosiveness to get to top speed quickly.
Rodgers primarily lined up in the slot for Clemson’s offense, though he did occasionally line up as the Flanker or X receiver in certain packages and formations. Rodgers primarily played underneath, running a high volume of slant, stick, or crossing routes. He shows no fear of playing through contact or playing over the middle, and is willing to take hits if it means securing the catch. Rodgers did get some work in the vertical passing game, with Clemson building on his quick routes with double-moves to take advantage of defensive backs trying to jump his routes.
Rodgers is a solid route runner who is able to execute very crisp breaks at the top of his routes and run with good precision. That, along with his explosiveness, allow him to get good separation and use his route running as a weapon against bigger defensive backs.
Rodgers has good ball skills, reacting quickly to passes, even when they’re thrown hard from a short range. He is a natural hands catcher who does a great job of framing the ball and looking it into his hands. Likewise, he has very good body control to adjust to the pass in the air, expand his catch radius, or make difficult catches.
He is a definite threat with the ball in his hands, using good vision and elusiveness to turn quick passes into long gains. Rodgers is built like a running back and effectively turns into one once he makes the catch. His compact build allows him to run through arm tackles and bounce off contact, racking up yards after the catch.
That being said, Rodgers is almost certainly a slot receiver only at the NFL level. While he can expand his catch radius, he is still only 5-foot-9 with relatively short arms. If bigger defensive backs can stick with him through his route, they can play around him relatively easily, as well as high-point the ball over him. Also, while Rodgers is explosive and reaches top speed quickly, his long speed is only average.
Overall Grade: 7.3 - This prospect should be able to start in the right situation, he lacks positional versatility and might not be a fit for all schemes.
Rodgers projects best as a slot receiver in a Spread or West Coast offense.
He has the ability to threaten vertically, but it’s relatively limited. He would be best used in an offense that can take advantage of his ability to be precise in his route running and explosive after the catch.
Rodgers was also sent into jet motion by Clemson’s offense, and his future team should plan to use him in a similar manner. That would not only manufacture touches for Rodgers and opportunities to use his agility and explosiveness with the ball in his hand, but also set the defense up for misdirection to aid the running game or play-action passes.
Rodgers rarely (if ever) faced press coverage in college, and his ability to deal with it is something of an unknown. Teams might want to protect him from bigger defensive backs through alignment and route concepts. That, however, doesn’t mean that he would be a non-factor in the red zone. Rodgers has excellent ball skills, great short-area quickness, and lower-body explosiveness. Taken together, those traits allow him to uncover quickly and haul in quick, difficult-to-catch passes.
Rodgers might have to wait until the second day of the draft to hear his name called, but he could provide a solid value to a quick-passing team that makes heavy use of their slot receiver.