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Amari Rodgers impressing early on in Clemson's season
CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 03: Clemson Tigers wide receiver Amari Rodgers (3) leaps over the goal line for a touchdown during the game between the Clemson Tigers and the Virginia Cavaliers on October 03, 2020 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NFL Draft

Amari Rodgers impressing early on in Clemson’s season

When Justyn Ross got knocked out for the season with an injury, Trevor Lawrence’s receiving corps undeniably took a sharp hit. However, it turned the attention to Senior wide receiver Amari Rodgers, who was poised to step up in the room without Ross. Early on in the year, Travis Etienne has already had a huge impact on Clemson’s entire offense. Rodgers has similarly impressed, with over 200 receiving yards in just three contests. It is a good early season boost to Rodgers’ stock.

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Amari Rodgers stands out against Wake Forest

After three touchdowns in the past two weeks, Rodgers is getting some national attention. Yet, it was his Week 1 performance against Wake Forest that really stands out to me. Rodgers showcased his full skillset, and it shows how his skills could translate to the next level.

The immediate thing anyone has to understand is that Rodgers will probably be a slot receiver at the next level. That is okay, but you have to go into this evaluation knowing that. For that spot, he has a great skillset. His quickness and explosiveness fit right into the twitchiness that teams love in their slot receivers. In this play, in particular, he showcases lots of great skills.

Related | Clemson football prospects to watch versus Virginia

Notice how Rodgers stems this almost right into the slot cornerback. He is essentially on his toes, engages the defender with his body, and uses a slight shove with his arm. That gets him just one step to accelerate and get separation. Trevor Lawrence throws a great ball, and Rodgers makes a good catch outside of his frame. Overall, this is spectacular savviness to attack the leverage while still showcasing strong hands.

The other thing that will stand out about Rodgers is his ability to win after the catch. We have seen a trend in recent years where receivers are coming out and built like running backs. A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, James Washington, and Brandon Aiyuk are a few examples.

Rodgers fits right into that mold. Clemson loves to get him manufactured touches, and you can see why. Rodgers has effortless contact balance and is extremely shifty when working side to side. Getting him one-on-one opportunities against defenders usually means Rodgers will win. He is outstanding after the catch. I would call it his best trait.

So, Rodgers is not an excellent route runner by any means. However, his releases off the line and how he chooses to attack leverage are good. If you see him open, there is a decent chance that Rodgers won that off the line. The same is true here. Rodgers stems directly to the defensive back and gets on his toes to make him flat-footed. No matter what he does from that point, he wins. Rodgers makes a quick dash inside to gain separation and then some more yards after the catch. The NFL’s best slot receivers can do this consistently.

This play is rather unspectacular from Rodgers’ point of view. He has an absolutely massive cushion from the safety. I have no idea what Wake Forest is doing here. It is possible that this is a blown coverage and that the inside coverage defender was not guarding the flats but Rodgers. Regardless, I highlighted this because it shows Rodgers is thinking. He takes advantage of this cushion but takes his break quickly enough to keep Lawrence’s timing and get wide open. That is good awareness from Rodgers. 

The one worrying play

Most people can probably remember this play. This is just inexcusable from Rodgers. NFL players can not drop this, even if they are feeling the sideline. Rodgers does a nice job of even dragging his feet for a potential catch. It is a blown coverage and should be a touchdown, but to drop this is deflating. Although he usually has consistent hands, this could be a sticking point for Rodgers. He battled back from it well mentally, which is nice to see, but there are no excuses for this drop.

Rodgers’ role against Miami

Do not expect theatrics from Clemson against Miami. When it comes to Rodgers, he has a pretty defined role and sticks to it. He is an explosive playmaker who wins off the line and can win after the catch. Hopefully, we can see Rodgers go up against someone like Al Blades Jr. to get a real feel for how he could project to the next level against a fellow NFL prospect. 

The YAC display Rodgers may put on will be something to watch. No matter who Clemson faces, Rodgers is a threat to take one to the house whenever the ball is in his hands. Please make no mistake about it, Rodgers has a lot of pressure on him this game. In a Top-10 matchup as Clemson’s number one wide receiver, you better show out. NFL scouts will be watching this one. 

If Rodgers can have a big game against the Hurricanes, scouts will officially be put fully on notice for this young man. With a Senior Bowl invitation likely coming his way, do not put a rise for Rodgers in the coming months out of your minds. 

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