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Ranking the Roster: No. 28 – Amari Rodgers Is ‘Going To Do Some Cool Things’

From determination to strength to production, rookie receiver Amari Rodgers could be a game-changing weapon for the Green Bay Packers.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster ahead of July 28, the first practice of training camp. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.

No. 28: WR Amari Rodgers (5-9, 212; 21; rookie; Clemson)

To say the Packers haven’t had a legit slot receiver since Randall Cobb was rolling in the mid-2010s isn’t entirely accurate. Last season, Green Bay had the most productive slot receiver in the NFL. His name? Davante Adams. Among the 58 receivers to run at least 25 routes from the slot, Adams ranked No. 1 with 3.05 yards per target, No. 1 with a 139.0 passer rating and No. 2 with an 84.2 percent catch rate.

Adams, of course, dominates from any position. If Rodgers is as good as the Packers believe, he’ll add a new element to an offense that led the NFL in scoring last year.

“I think without a doubt he’s going to do some cool things for us this upcoming year,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “I think any time you have a young player, there’s always this kind of process of them trying to learn this new system and there’s ups and downs with it. I think Amari’s doing a very good job. He’s not intimidated by what we’re handing to him. He’s a student of the game, and you can see that. He’s got a natural feel to the game in these limited reps.”

In the 16 drafts conducted by Ted Thompson and his successor, Brian Gutekunst, the Packers hadn’t drafted a receiver shorter than Cobb (5-10 1/4). Rodgers measured 5-9 1/2. However, while the 13th receiver selected in the 2020 draft was one of the shortest, he also was the heaviest. So, Rodgers is short but not small.

With strength, quickness and a know-how coming from his famous father, Rodgers dominated as a senior at Clemson by posting career highs of 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. Given the ball frequently on screens and jet sweep-style passes, he ranked first in the nation in slot catches, second in screen catches and seventh in missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he was fifth in the draft class with 8.0 yards after the catch per reception. A whopping 32 of his receptions were beyond the line of scrimmage.

Rodgers should be an instant hit with coach Matt LaFleur’s ability to create touches via scheme, whether it’s receiver screens or jet sweeps.

“We gave him a lot of tosses, which counts as a pass, and speed sweeps to get the ball in his hands. He’s kind of a Swiss Army knife that I think will fit well in that scheme,” Clemson receivers coach Tyler Grisham said. “He used a stiff-arm like he’s a running back. He’s got a running back mentality. He’s very strong, very confident. He’s a no-doubter. Y’all got a value pick in the third round.”

Rodgers’ production at Clemson was impressive, but not half as impressive as his comeback from a torn ACL suffered during spring practice in 2019. According to a 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine, the average time between ACL tear and return to play among NFL players was almost 50 weeks. Rodgers’ goal was just over 23 weeks. Not to run. Not to start doing football-related drills. Not even to return to practice. No, Rodgers’ preposterous goal was to play in Clemson’s opener against Georgia Tech on Aug. 29, 2019.

“I was concerned,” Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, said from his office during a break in his duties as Baltimore Ravens receivers coach. “I had a couple receivers who had ACL injuries in spring practice, and none of them were themselves when they came back and they took longer than Amari. But, Amari told me before he went under for surgery, he said, ‘I’m not going to miss a game.’ I’m looking at him like, ‘Dude, you’re going to miss the first half of the season.’”

Ultimately, Rodgers missed his goal by one week. In his second game, he had an 87-yard touchdown catch at Syracuse in which he stiff-armed a defender to the turf and turned on the jets. That set the stage for his monster 2020 campaign.

“He’s one of my favorite young men that’s come through this program,” Grisham said. “I’m heading into my eighth season here at Clemson and he’s one of my favorites and many others’ favorites. He takes the younger guys under his wing, so they love him to death. He’s just a likable guy, very endearing personality, very relatable. He doesn’t carry himself like a superstar. He’s down to earth, very intelligent – very football smart but very intelligent. He’s kind-hearted and has high character. I could go on and on. He’s just a great leader. You bring a guy like that into the locker room, he sets the standard.”

With Green Bay, Rodgers has joined a position group by another player who sets the standard, Adams, a superstar, leader and role model to the younger receivers. Having grown up around Cobb, Rodgers now is embracing Adams’ wisdom.

“He’s one of those player-coaches,” Rodgers said during OTAs, “so, if you don’t know something, you can go to him and he knows it because you know he’s been in the game, he’s been experienced. He’s probably the best receiver in the game, in my opinion, right now. So, being able to be in the same room as him and being able to learn from him, I feel like it’s only going to help me. Hopefully I can be where he is, so that’s my goal and I’m just very blessed to have the opportunity to be in the same room as him.”

Ranking the Green Bay Packers Roster

Nos. 29-30: Lucas Patrick, Jon Runyan

Nos. 31-33: Royce Newman, Blake Bortles, Marcedes Lewis

Nos. 34-37: TJ Slaton, Tyler Lancaster, Will Redmond, Kamal Martin

Nos. 38-40: JK Scott, Josh Jackson, Vernon Scott

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