The 2021 NFL Draft season is upon us and the first wave of free agency is now over. Now, scouts, coaches, and general managers will hit the road as all eyes will turn to the draft.
Among the 32 teams building their rosters to compete for the next Lombardi Trophy is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold 10 picks in this season’s draft -- including the No. 1 overall pick. The Jaguars are entering a new era under Head Coach Urban Meyer, and the 2021 draft will serve as a catalyst to the Jaguars’ rebuild moving into the future.
As we march closer and closer to April’s draft, we will look at individual draft prospects and how they would potentially fit with the Jaguars. Instead of looking at any negatives, we are going to look at what the players do well and if they could match what the Jaguars need at the specific role or position.
In this edition, we review Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers, one of Trevor Lawrence's favorite targets during the 2020 season. Outside of his familiarity with Lawrence, what else makes Rodgers a good fit for the Jaguars?
The son of Baltimore Ravens wide receivers coach Tee Martin, Amari Rodgers was a four-star recruit who starred at Knoxville Catholic High School and was among the top-20 wide receiver recruits in the 2017 class. Rodgers initially committed to USC but eventually flipped to Clemson.
Rodgers appeared in 14 games as a true freshman, catching 19 passes for 123 yards (6.5 yards per catch). His role expanded in 2018, returning one punt for a touchdown and catching 55 passes for 575 yards (10.5 yards per catch) and four touchdowns.
Rodgers suffered a torn ACL in the spring before the 2019 season but was still able to play most of the following season, catching 30 receptions for 426 yards (14.2 yards per catch) and four touchdowns along with one rushing score.
Rodgers stepped into a top receiver role as a senior, developing into one of the team's biggest playmakers. In 12 games, he caught an ACC-leading 77 passes for 1,020 yards (13.2 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns, earning First-Team All-ACC honors.
What Amari Rodgers Does Well
The epitome of a yards after the catch receiver, Amari Rodgers looks like a running back in the truest sense of the word once he gets the ball in his hands. He doesn't have a prototypical wide receiver build at a compact 5-foot-9, 212 pounds, but he carries a lot of strength and power that translates to his game after the catch.
Add this to smooth start/stop acceleration and Rodgers is a threat with the ball in his hands on screens, underneath routes, and slants. He runs with terrific balance and is able to lower his shoulder to power through arm tackles. Cornerbacks bounced off him when attempting to tackle him around the legs multiple times. Overall he looks like a powerful receiver physically but then shows that same play strength with the ball in his hands.
Rodgers' ability to create after the catch led to a role in the Clemson offense that mostly focused on underneath throws or throws at the line of scrimmage. With that said, he proved to be a worthwhile vertical threat in 2020, displaying the ball tracking and the body control to haul in deep targets. He isn't a burner but he is fast enough off the line of scrimmage and accelerates throughout his route to win one-on-one downfield. He can also adjust to passes well for a receiver who doesn't have a big catch radius -- he won't win many catches against contact, but he has the hands and ball skills to catch outside his frame when uncontested.
Rodgers has some potential as a route runner as well. While he is likely pigeonholed to a slot role, he showed several different gears as a route runner and displayed the ability to sink his hips and gain separation by exploding in and out of his breaks. His quick feet, balance, and ability to shake defenders at the line all give him something to work with in terms of his route running at the next level.
How Amari Rodgers Would Fit With the Jaguars
Well, this one is easy.
While it wouldn't have been hard to figure that Amari Rodgers best fit the Jaguars as a versatile slot receiver who can win after the catch and even take carries out of the backfield due to his skill set, Rodgers himself said last week the Jaguars have told him they see him as a player in a Percy Harvin-type role. They clearly don't think he is Harvin, but his usage would be similar.
This makes a lot of sense, too. Rodgers is so gifted at winning after the catch that you can deploy him in a number of roles (much like Laviska Shenault last season, minus Shenault's downfield upside). Screens, slants, jet sweeps, Rodgers could do it all. The Jaguars also have two coaches on their staff who coached Harvin in Urban Meyer and Darrell Bevell.
As a whole, the Jaguars don't have a player quite like Rodgers on the roster. He wins in similar ways to Shenault but unlike Shenault he is likely best off in the slot. The Jaguars have three receivers in Shenault, DJ Chark, and Marvin Jones who can function as slot receivers, but Rodgers would be the only pure slot receiver on the Jaguars' roster in the event they drafted him.
There is a lot to like about Rodgers' game, even if some questions remain. His NFL success will be role-dependent, but the role we know the Jaguars would envision for him is the exact role he needs to thrive in the NFL. Add in the fact that he is familiar with Trevor Lawrence and already has downfield chemistry with him and Rodgers is an easy sell.
With that said, I am not sure Rodgers makes sense for any of the Jaguars' picks before No. 65. Whether he is there is the question, but picking a slot receiver with limited upside as a complete receiver in the top-50 would be a tough sell. Taking him at No. 65 would be completely justifiable due to his fit, however.
For all of our 2021 NFL Draft profiles, click below.
- Trevor Lawrence
- Christian Barmore
- Kyle Pitts
- Trevon Moehrig
- Jaycee Horn
- Kadarius Toney
- Richie Grant
- Pat Freiermuth
- Samuel Cosmi
- Jaylen Mayfield
- Rondale Moore
- Brevin Jordan
- Jaelan Phillips
- Creed Humphrey
- Tommy Tremble
- Elijah Moore
- Azeez Ojulari
- Teven Jenkins
- Jayson Oweh
- Jevon Holland
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
- Daviyon Nixon
- Levi Onwuzurike
- Travis Etienne
- Michael Carter
- Alijah Vera-Tucker
- Asante Samuel Jr.