GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers added a receiver in the mold of Randall Cobb to fill a role in the offense that's been empty since Cobb departed after the 2018 season.
Green Bay traded the first of Saturday's fourth-round picks to move up seven spots in the third to select Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers on Friday night. It was a steep price by the trade charts but one general manager Brian Gutekunst didn't mind paying.
“We paid a little bit of a price but I thought it was important because of the value of the player I wanted,” Gutekunst said.
Rodgers had a massive senior season with 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. He has dominated in the slot and made an impact as a returner. At the Clemson pro day, with Gutekunst in attendance, he took some reps at running back.
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After the pro day, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah compared Rodgers to Cobb. It’s a comparison that he seemed to embrace. After all, his father, Tee Martin, was Cobb's position coach at Kentucky.
“I’d definitely see myself as a Randall Cobb type player, being used in the slot, jet sweeps and the return game, as well,” Rodgers said. “Ever since Randall left, they haven't had a guy like that for real. I haven’t seen one. So just being able to bring my game to that offense, I feel like it would be special just to see and work with a well-known player like Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers, two vets that have a lot of experience and have competed at the highest level. I would love to go and learn from those guys, that would be pretty special.”
In the 16 drafts conducted by Gutekunst and then-GM Ted Thompson, Cobb had been the shortest receiver selected at 5-foot-10 1/4. Rodgers measured 5-foot-9 1/2. Rodgers’ 40 time of 4.50 seconds and vertical of 33 inches were on par with Cobb’s 4.55 and 33.5 inches coming out of Kentucky in 2011.
Rodgers is instant offense with schemed-up plays. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers ranked first in the nation with 68 slot receptions, third with 917 slot yards, seventh with 17 missed tackles and 22nd with 8.0 yards after the catch per catch. The Tigers made it a point to get him the ball in space. Packers coach Matt LaFleur figures to do the same thing with Rodgers, who will bring the jet-sweep game back to life.
"Just that, the fact that I did play running back my whole life over to my junior year of high school,” he said at pro day of why he’s so dangerous with the ball. “I've had that background. Whenever I get the ball, I'm trying to score, period. I’m not trying to get tackled by one person. It’s going to have to take two or three people to get me down. That’s just my mind-set, just whenever I call the ball in my hands I’m trying to score every single time.”
Rodgers finished his career with 181 career receptions for 2,144 yards and 15 touchdowns over 55 games. He added a 7.8-yard average on punt returns with one touchdown. Rodgers was the fifth Clemson player since 2000 to record touchdowns by rush, reception and punt return in a career.
"You’re getting a winner,” he said. “I won at the highest level at every point in my career. I don’t plan on stopping now. I'm going to do whatever it takes in order to help the team that I go to win and to help myself be successful. I'm going to be the hardest worker on a team. I'm going to be the first one in the building, the last one out. I'm just going to be determined to win Super Bowls and bring the Super Bowl back to whatever city I go to. You're going to get somebody that’s going to go all in. They're not going to let off the gas pedal until the career is over.”