Making Sense of the Buffalo Bills' Decision to Sign Boom-or-Bust Receiver Da'Rick Rogers

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COMMENTARY | Go ahead, Buffalo Bills fans. Get pumped about Da'Rick Rogers. You're not crazy in doing so. After all, embracing any kind of hope and faithfully riding it through the regular season has become a basic guideline of, well, calling yourself a Bills fan, right?

Anyway, why should the Bills faithful be excited? Good question.

Because Rogers is the most physically impressive wideout on Buffalo's roster, that's why. Undrafted players typically aren't the most physically impressive players at any position on any NFL roster.

Therein lies the foundational intrigue of the Bills' decision to ink Rogers moments after the 2013 draft concluded.

(In reality, Rogers chose the Bills, but the front office brass at One Bills Drive certainly could have declined.)

By now, we know this kid's story. Here's a succinct (as possible) recap--he exploded onto the scene in 2011 as a sophomore with the Tennessee Volunteers. By season's end, he racked up 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns and earned first team All-SEC honors.

Prior to a highly anticipated junior season, Rogers was suspended indefinitely from his team for undisclosed reasons and later admitted to failing three drug tests while in Knoxville.

Those developments led to his transfer to Tennessee Tech of the FCS (formerly Division 1AA), where he didn't disappoint on the field or off.

The 21-year-old hauled in 61 passes for 893 yards. He caught 10 touchdowns and passed just as many drug tests at his new school in 2012.

Then, inexplicably to some, to others not so much, Rogers' name wasn't called during the 2013 NFL draft.

In reality, it was obvious why he wasn't picked. Off-field red flags, character issues, immaturity--you name it.

When he tweeted "I'm a Buffalo Bill" and his signing was confirmed, an obscure elation erupted amongst Bills fans on social networks.

There was more outward delight in regards to Rogers' agreement with Buffalo than there was following any of the team's eight draft selections.

But since his signing, I've listened and read the words of some highly respected and intelligent media members--both local and national--who've warned everyone to temper their expectations of Rogers.

Any advisory based on the notion that he could ultimately fail another drug test or clash with coaches is totally logical and fair. Rogers undoubtedly must prove that he's moved past his childish ways.

But any recommendation to diminish hope rooted in a questioning of his on-field skills is misguided.

Rogers' liability isn't the same as your classic undrafted free agent who isn't big enough, fast enough, athletic enough, refined enough or wasn't productive enough in college. His liability is his history of off-field shenanigans.

That's it.

In essence, he's this year's Vontaze Burfict.

If he becomes a more dependable, levelheaded individual, the Bills will likely have the steal of the 2013 draft...who wasn't even drafted.

However, it's important to remember that it's not unusual for rookie wideouts--first-rounders and free agents alike--to slowly transition to the increased speed and complexity of the professional game.

Also, despite his obviously special physical traits, Rogers didn't exactly dominate the SEC in 2011.

According to an insightful statistical breakdown on, Rogers averaged 7.8 receptions, 129.3 yards and 1.5 touchdowns in the Volunteers' four games that year against Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Middle Tennessee State.

In the eight conference contests on the docket, his averages dipped to 4.5 receptions, 65.38 yards and .38 touchdowns.

That disparity is worth mentioning, as there has been some exaggeration pertaining to his statistical output in college. In any case, even most naysayers agree that Rogers possesses top 100 talent, which means, at worst, Buffalo snagged a third-round prospect without using a draft selection.

His athletic prowess is unmistakable as is his NFL-readiness. What's more, outside of Stevie Johnson--and probably T.J. Graham--there are major vacancies in the Bills receiving corps, which is probably part of the reason Rogers signed with Buffalo in the first place.

Thankfully, I haven't caught wind of anyone bashing the Bills' decision to take a chance on him.

If you want to safeguard yourself from the disappointment that may arise if Rogers underwhelms in a Bills uniform by lowering your expectations, so be it.

Heck, he definitely could revert to his Tennessee ways and make another, this time more costly mistake.

Really though, for a player of Da'Rick Rogers' physical capabilities, a guy who without the off-field concerns would probably have been a second-round pick, the Buffalo Bills made a shrewd, low-risk investment that could potentially yield huge dividends.

And if you've postponed your excitement about him, just make sure it's for the right reason.

Chris Trapasso is a sportswriter who lives in Medina, NY and has been covering the Buffalo Bills and the NFL since 2009 for Bleacher Report.

For Bills and other NFL news, follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisTrapasso.

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