In an interview with former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall this spring, Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers said that his dream scenario in the NFL Draft would be to go to the Green Bay Packers in the second round.
He had to wait until the third, but that dream has come true.
The Packers traded up in the third round, climbing seven spots from the 92nd pick to #85 to grab Rodgers, who should become a key weapon for Matt LaFleur’s offense out of the slot. It’s a situation that Rodgers’ family all expected, as he told reporters after his selection:
“Literally everybody in my family told me I was going to the Packers. I tried to block it out because I didn’t want to get it in my head.” Rodgers went on to explain that former Packers slot receiver Randall Cobb — a frequent comparison for Rodgers based on their size and play style — is what drew that connection for his family. “It’s just the fit. Since Randall Cobb left, they felt like (the Packers) haven’t had a slot player like him. Davante (Adams), to bring me in and take a little pressure off him will be perfect.”
Rodgers is the son of former University of Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin. One of Martin’s coaching stops after his playing career ended was at the University of Kentucky, where he coached wide receivers in 2010 and 2011. Not coincidentally, 2010 was when Cobb had his breakout season for the Wildcats, eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards and scoring 12 touchdowns in his final year before the Packers drafted him with the 64th overall pick in 2011.
“He’s like a big brother to me,” Rodgers said of Cobb.
With the two players so close personally, it’s no wonder that the comparisons between them keep flowing. However, based on Rodgers’ build, perhaps a different, more modern comparison is apt: Deebo Samuel. The former South Carolina star has been a dynamic playmaker for the San Francisco 49ers over the past two years, using his running back-like frame to rack up huge amounts of yards after the catch.
While Cobb’s name came up, Samuel’s game is reflected more in how Rodgers described his role at Clemson, taking jet passes that went into the stat sheet as receptions rather than rushing carries. But the message he wants to get across is clear: “Get the ball in my hands any way possible.”
That includes returns, where Rodgers was a weapon on punts for the Tigers. The Packers did not have a clear return man under contract until selecting Rodgers, with Tyler Ervin remaining a free agent, but at least on punts there is now an obvious candidate. “I’m very comfortable in the return game,” Rodgers said, especially punt returns. That’s my bread and butter.”
In looking back to the early part of the last decade, the return game is where Cobb made his biggest impact early in his career. A 108-yard kickoff return touchdown in week one of his rookie season signaled his arrival with a massive exclamation point. It’s far too early to know if Rodgers will have a similarly explosive debut but if his description of his work ethic is to be believed, don’t bet against him.
“I’m going to prepare every single week like it’s the Super Bowl.”
Hopefully the other A. Rodgers returns to Green Bay this fall to give this franchise another opportunity to play in one.