At a time when the NFL has grown more comfortable adapting its offensive schemes to non-traditional wideouts, Clemson’s Amari Rodgers arrives as a jack of all trades. A multiyear starter, Rodgers moved into the spotlight following Justyn Ross’ diagnosis of a season-ending neck condition and subsequent surgery.
With the weight of championship aspirations on his shoulders, Rodgers responded with his finest season. The senior caught a career-best 77 passes for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns, each the top mark on the team. Rodgers also remained a part of special teams where he averaged 7.1 return yards on punts. He received first-team All-ACC honors for his efforts.
As with Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, Laviska Shenault Jr., and numerous other position-versatile playmakers that have entered the league over the past five years, Rodgers provides the ability to move from role to role seamlessly without ever leaving the field. The Tennessee native played running back in high school before transitioning to receiver and becoming a nationally coveted recruit. Though his skill set compares favorably to that of Randall Cobb as a prospect, Rodgers has maintained a tailback’s build and uses that size well when running through contact. He should arrive in the NFL ready to make an impact as a slot receiver, especially for teams that lean heavily on jet motion. Rodgers can factor into the return game as well.
But while Rodgers has appealing traits, he also has obvious weaknesses. His length — 5-foot-10 with just over 30-inch arms — contributed to his struggles in contested-catch situations at the college level. Clemson’s simplistic offense also limited his use to mostly short routes near the line of scrimmage. Rodgers can replicate some of that in the NFL, but he will need to demonstrate aptitude for more traditional route concepts as well.
Mock Draft landing spots
While the Cleveland Browns don’t need to bolster the receiving corps at the moment, the team could realistically part with Jarvis Landry after the upcoming season. Rodgers could step in as a replacement in the slot while offering the position versatility Landry lacks. Meanwhile, the New York Jets could see Rodgers playing a similar role to that of Deebo Samuel, the wideout-tailback hybrid with which new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur worked in San Francisco.
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
Given Rodgers’ profile, he stands a solid chance of landing a literal or de facto starting job as a rookie. In one of those scenarios, he could become a flex option sometime during the 2021 season with additional upside as a returner. In a best-case scenario with the right team, Rodgers’ versatility could make him a sneaky touchdown shark (he nearly doubled his career total as a senior).
Fantasy impact: Career
Even if Rodgers doesn’t land in an ideal situation right away, he has all the tools to become a starting slot receiver early in his career. That won’t make him a likely WR1/2 in fantasy, but he could still become a weekly starter in most formats if he realizes his potential.