The Green Bay Packers finally drafted a wide receiver! The team spent a third round pick on Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers, moving up to select him at No. 85 overall.
The NFL’s move toward position-less offensive football continued in 2021 with the selection of the versatile Rodgers. Like Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, and other tailback-receiver hybrids, Rodgers can smoothly transition between roles on offense without leaving the field.
A four-star recruit when he committed to Clemson, Rodgers played both running back and wide receiver during his high school career. He focused more on the latter during his collegiate career, establishing himself as a featured receiver by his sophomore campaign. While Rodgers lacked the size and apparent upside of some of the other wideouts on the roster — the Tigers also had Deon Cain, Tee Higgins, and Justyn Ross during that period — he nevertheless finished at or near the top of the major receiving categories on the team each of his final three seasons.
Rodgers’ finest effort came in 2020. The senior led the offense with 77 catches for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. That campaign earned him first-team All-ACC honors and helped the Tigers to sixth consecutive appearing in the College Football Playoff.
Rodgers becomes one of the latest position-versatile weapons to enter the NFL in recent years. That trend matters in a tangible way for Rodgers, as coaching staffs exhibit less resistance to players without a “true” position or role. Like his aforementioned peers, Rodgers can line up in numerous wideout roles while also shifting into the backfield to create mismatches with the defense. As Rodgers acclimates to the denser NFL playbooks, he has the tools to become an every-down player even if his role changes snap to snap.
But Rodgers comes with some limitations. At a hair under 5-foot-10, he possesses below-average size for a pass catcher. That length deficiency manifests in negative ways when Rodgers has to come down with a contested pass or track a ball while in traffic. That shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a capable receiver, but a smart coaching staff will want to keep him from those situations when possible.
Rodgers can move into a de facto starting role as a rookie, though where his touches come remains unclear. While he has the size and experience to credibly line up at running back, he might see more of his handoffs on jet sweeps. That still presents value from a fantasy perspective, but perhaps not as much as other position-less weapons.
Recent seasons have seen players like Rodgers become every-week flex starters. Even if Rodgers doesn’t begin his career in optimal circumstances, he should have every chance to move into a featured role at some point early in his career.