After the Green Bay Packers chose not to take a wide receiver in last year’s draft, general manager Brian Gutekunst made sure that he landed an offensive playmaker this year.
After swapping third-round picks and giving up an additional fourth-rounder, he landed Amari Rodgers out of Clemson.
This pick should begin to satiate the part of the fanbase that had been pounding on the table for another wideout to relieve pressure on Davante Adams, who carried a majority of the load last season. Rodgers breaks the mold. He’s not six feet tall like the other receivers on Green Bay’s roster, but he does offer a whole lot to the passing attack. He has the potential to take the Green and Gold to another level next season.
At 5’9″, 211 lbs., what Rodgers lacks in height, he makes up in muscle mass. His muscular frame and compact body make it extremely difficult to bring him down. Last season, he finished second in yards after the catch in the whole country, only trailing Heisman winner DeVonta Smith. He possesses both the balance and strength to shake tackles and keep moving, creating chunk plays from short catch and runs.
Rodgers ran a 4.51 40-yard dash and plays even faster on tape. He uses his speed to get quick releases off the line of scrimmage, putting opposing defenders on the back foot immediately.
He also is a technician operating out of the slot.
He uses his deceptive speed to set up the opposing corner, altering the pace at which he runs routes to create space. He can quickly reach his top speed on routes that require him to sprint past the defenders, hitting a second gear to track down deeper passes and blow by opposing corners at will.
By hitting terminal velocity during his routes, he can be a threat in the vertical passing game — ditching opposing corners in a hurry. His speed and ability to break tackles make him deadly on manufactured touches like end-arounds and screen passes.
But the thing fans should be most excited about is his ability to serve as both a punt and kick returner next season. After having trouble fielding returns last year, the Packers brought in an aging Tavon Austin to provide stability.
Now they have a 21-year-old receiver who can take punts and kicks back to the house.
Given that Tyler Ervin only returned five punts for 20 yards and Austin returned three for 14 yards with a long of seven, Rodgers fills a significant need for the Packers. Rodgers could fill the role that Ervin had early last season. While Ervin might have been faster than Rodgers, his powerful running style and ability to break tackles are similar to running back.
Despite his lack of height and top-end speed, Rodgers’s physicality, route-running ability, and sure-handedness make him a complete wideout who could contribute early to last season’s No. 1 ranked offense. Some have labeled him as a Randall Cobb 2.0, but I have some reservations about that comparison. Rodgers is less reliant on his speed and finesse; instead, he challenges oncoming defenders to bring him down.
With his ability to be a returner and a slot wideout who can take advantage of the opposing nickel corner, Rodgers feels like a perfect fit in the offense Matt LaFleur runs, providing a powerful wideout capable of breaking through tackles and getting yards after the catch.
He adds an extra dimension with his ability to operate out of the slot and his power. Rodgers looks to form a formidable wideout core with Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Allen Lazard and could be an impact player this season — proving to fans why he was the highest wideout selected by the Packers since Adams.