Rookie Rundown: WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson

Rookie Rundown: WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson

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Clemson senior receiver Amari Rodgers can do a little bit of everything and certainly will endear himself to a professional suitor in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was a high school standout from Knoxville, Tenn., being tabbed as a top-100 recruit. Rodgers is the son of former Tennessee Volunteers and NFL quarterback Tee Martin.

At his Clemson Pro Day on March 11, Rodgers checked in with the following measurables:

Height: 5-foot-9
Weight: 212 pounds
40 time: 4.51 seconds

Built like a running back, with a compact frame and powerful legs, Rodgers even worked out as one in front of NFL personnel. It’s likelier than not that he primarily plays wideout in the NFL, but teams will look to get him the ball in creative ways, such as on jet sweeps.

Table: Amari Rodgers NCAA stats (2017-20)

Year
School
Class
Gm*
Receiving
Rushing
Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg
2017
Clemson
FR
12
19
123
6.5
0
3
-9
-3
2018
Clemson
SO
15
55
575
10.5
4
1
5
5
2019
Clemson
JR
13
30
426
14.2
4
2
50
25
2020
Clemson
SR
12
77
1,020
13.2
7
0
0
0
Career
181
2,144
11.8
15
6
46
7.7

*includes postseason/bowl games

At Clemson, Rodgers was a role player to begin his tenure, but he still managed to see the field as a true freshman in 2017. The 2018 Clemson championship season saw him account for a larger role in the passing game and on special teams, earning a starting role in the offense.

In the spring of 2019, Rodgers tore an ACL and still managed to miss only one contest. He recovered at breakneck speed (166 days), roughly three months ahead of the usual schedule.

In 2020, with wide receiver Tee Higgins going pro and Justyn Ross (spine) being forced to sit out, Rodgers found himself atop the pecking order among Trevor Lawrence’s receiving targets. Rodgers tied for the team lead in touchdown grabs (7), capturing the crown all to himself for receptions (77) and yardage (1,020) on his way to being a first-team All-ACC selection.

Pros

  • Extremely tough to bring down in the open field, especially for leaner cornerbacks
  • Accelerates quickly from a stop
  • Pretty good spacial awareness and vision
  • Exceptional work ethic and determination displayed recovering so quickly from a torn ACL
  • Fine deep-ball tracker and has plus body control to adjust to an off-target throw
  • Plays faster than he times — displays a second gear and the ability to outrun most defenders if he has even a step
  • Special teams experience
  • Versatile — will be able to quickly get utilized in space from the get-go, seeing short-area passes to manufacture touches and allow him to create yards after catch

Cons

  • Inconsistent hands and concentration lapses led to some drops, including a few ugly ones
  • Plays best vs. man-to-man coverage out of the slot where his ability to shake a defender is more valuable — could be less impactful against zone defenses
  • Can he consistently defeat press coverage? If not, his role down the field will be diminished
  • Just an average route runner — needs to work with NFL coaches to refine his nuanced movements, particularly coming out of breaks
  • Could be pigeonholed as a slot receiver if drafted by a less creative coaching staff

Fantasy football outlook

Rodgers’ utility role allows him to fit just about any NFL system employed these days, although he is ideal for a West Coast offense or a spread system that emphasizes chipping away at a defense. It should take a few years before he is ready to make the next leap in production to a level in which fantasy footballers are thinking about him each week, however.

Expect a midround placement — somewhere in the range of Rounds 3-5 — and for an offense looking to add a Deebo Samuel-like player. While the comparison is far from perfect, both are competitive, bullish runners with the ball in their hands who are asked to earn yardage the hard way. How Carolina has utilized Curtis Samuel is possibly a more apt comparable in terms of play design and role.

New England could see him as a possible Julian Edelman replacement, and Detroit is in dire need of a player in Rodgers’ mold. Other interesting landing spots could be Tennessee, Miami, and Jacksonville (reuniting him with Lawrence). More possibilities include Cleveland, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Carolina, Minnesota, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and the New York Giants.

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