Rookie Spotlight: Amari Rodgers, Clemson
Height: 5’ 9 1/2”
Hands: 9 1/2″
40 yard dash: 4.55
NFL Comparison: Deebo Samuel, Jamison Crowder, mini-AJ Brown
– built like a running back, sturdy w/ high BMI
– impressive lateral agility
– got open at will during Senior Bowl practices
– can win at catch point versus bigger corners
– returns kicks
– strong blocker
– best WR at the 2021 Senior Bowl
– sluggish release
– limited route tree
– lacks elite speed
Scouting Notes: It took a long time for Rodgers, who was a top 100 player coming out of high school, to reach his potential at Clemson with the likes of Deon Cain, Hunter Renfrow and Tee Higgins all playing ahead of him – in addition to 2022 future draft stud Justyn Ross. He also had a setback early in 2019 with a torn ACL. But in 2020, Rodgers bloomed as the Tigers primary receiver, as Ross was out with injury, racking up 77 catches for over 1,000 yards and 7 TDs. Primarily a slot-receiver, Rodgers thrives after the catch, as he’s basically a running back at that point and he’s a problem for back-end defenders in the open field given his dense stature and his ability to create via not only agility but also surprising physicality. He’s stocky and runs with power, rarely going down on first contact, and he’s got great downfield vision. He’s also an excellent kick-returner.
Rodgers has intentional releases that can at times seem sluggish, but it’s important to note that he’s the kind of heady player who sets his route up from his initial stems. He’s got solid hands, and on throws that reach him in stride, Rodgers is often able to work his magic with sharp lateral agility and his low-shouldered running style. He takes that punishing style into his blocking as well, which is a plus as there’s often disconnect between a receiver’s intensity with and without a ball in his hands. Versatility is the name of Rodgers game, as he’s one of only five Tigers to score a receiving TD, rushing TD and return TD in the same season.
Fantasy Outlook: As a slot-receiver, Rodgers probably won’t be drafted as early as some guys who aren’t necessarily as good as he is, but fit that “No.1” receiver role better. That said, his usage as a kick returner and high profile college pedigree will keep his stock up enough to get him snatched up within the first 3 rounds. As far as fantasy is concerned, Rodgers is more of an asset in PPR formats, but he has the upside to break open big plays anytime he has the ball in his hands. As hybrid receiver/running backs continue to become popular to bright offensive minds, I have no doubt Rodgers can be an every week fantasy contributor in the right hands. Prior to knowing landing spots in the NFL draft, Rodgers is a fine mid RD2 pick in one-QB dynasty rookie drafts and early RD3 in superflex.