This week, we at Acme Packing Company got in touch with California Golden Blogs, SB Nation's blog covering (you guessed it!) the California Golden Bears, alma mater to a pair of Rodgerses who are now donning the Green and Gold. Instead of asking questions about the one who wears #12 and drives the offense, we traded questions with them about the newest Packers tight end, Richard Rodgers, who was chosen by Ted Thompson with the 98th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
APC: What are the Packers getting in Richard Rodgers?
Vlad Belo: The Packers are getting a tight end with good size and decent speed for a man his size. He is a pretty good athlete with decent ball skills. I think of him first and foremost as a receiving tight end. Others on CGB might be able to comment better on his run blocking ability. In Cal's offense last year, the tight end was not a real position, so Rodgers was another inside wide receiver. For his career, Rodgers averaged 15 ypc, so that's a pretty good indicator that he can get open in space if you get him the right matchups downfield.
boomtho: Richard Rodgers is a big, strong tight end with pretty decent speeed. He runs reasonably good routes and has pretty good hands, even on poorly thrown balls (through sheer practice - Cal's QB's have not been good recently). He has good ability to get down the field (seams or posts), evidenced by his high YPC. He also will bust out the "truck stick" once in a while which can be very fun to watch. I'm not sure what kind of blocker he is, nor how well his blocking skills will fit into the Packers need from TE's. New coach Sonny Dykes basically eliminated the TE position when he came in last year, making Rodgers exclusively a large receiver. I imagine this is a part of the game that he'll have to work very hard at if he wants to be an everyday TE.
TwistNHook: On top of what Vlad Belo noted, I'll also say that he was actually used as a running back in some situations. He was used in short yardage situations, which would explain why he has 7 rushes for 9 yards. You'll note his numbers were 39 catches in 2013 for 608 yards. That comes out to 15 yards per catch, which is a rather impressive amount, in my view.
APC: Has Rodgers developed into a well-rounded tight end, or is he still an oversized wide receiver?
Vlad Belo: I probably tipped this off with my response to question # 1, but I look at him as a big wide receiver at this point. That's not to say he can't develop into a well rounded tight end. But the way that Cal utilized him, you can't help but look at him as primarily a receiving tight end.
boomtho: Guess I skipped ahead! At this point in his career he is basically a large wide receiver. He definitely has the athleticism to become a good blocker, so I would lean toward giving him the benefit of the doubt here.
APC: How long do you expect it will take before Rodgers is a steady contributor to the Packers' passing game?
Vlad Belo: I think he can be an immediate contributor to the passing game. (Methinks the Packers think so too, having spent a third round pick on him.) In today's NFL, offenses are very good at finding mismatches or finding the one guy whom the defense can't necessarily account for. The Packers having some pretty good weapons in the passing game and the NFL's best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, who has never been shy about throwing to the tight end. This is a good fit for Richard Rodgers.
boomtho: His size, speed, and hands are already NFL ready. What I don't have as much confidence in right now is the mental side - coming from the Sonny Dykes "Bear Raid" system, can he adapt quickly to the Packers' offensive system? I get the sense (though I could be wrong) that the Packers like to have WR's and TE's run a lot of option routes and depend on receivers to adjust routes based on what Rodgers is doing. That part might come a bit slower to Richard. Still, I think he can be a part-time contributor early in the season (especially on passing downs).
Kodiak: The Packers are getting a big-body w/ good hands. He's not a capable blocker. At this point of his career, he's more of an athlete than a football player. Coach him up, and Aaron Rodgers has another target.
Thanks to the guys over at California Golden Blogs, and a special thanks to Twist for reaching out to us. Best of luck to Cal football this coming season, and keep those Rodgerses coming to Green Bay!