2021 NFL draft prospects: Clemson WR Amari Rodgers

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Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Clemson WR Amari Rodgers

5-foot-9, 211 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.81 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Short, squatty threat from the slot who showed he has deep-ball ability in next-level 2020 season

Games watched: Ohio State (2019), LSU (2019), Wake Forest (2019), Ohio State (2020)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (No. 186 nationally), Rodgers turned down USC (where his father was coaching at the time) and others to sign with the Tigers. As a true freshman in 2017, Rodgers caught 19 passes for 123 yards, ran three times for minus-9 yards and ran back two punt returns for 15 yards and one kickoff for 36 yards in 14 games. He started all 15 games for the national-champion Tigers in 2018, catching 55 passes for 575 yards and four touchdowns; returned 39 punts for 299 yards and one touchdown, plus one 22-yard kickoff; and ran once for 5 yards.

In 2019, Rodgers suffered a torn ACL during spring ball but missed only one game that fall, catching 30 passes for 426 yards and four touchdowns; returning 18 punts for 151 yards; and rushing twice for 50 yards and one touchdown in 14 games (10 starts). As a senior, Rodgers led the team with 77 catches for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns, running back nine punts for 64 yards. After the season, Rodgers attended the Senior Bowl.

Upside: Built like a running back but with the quicks you’d expect from a slot receiver. Possess good lower-body strength to break tackles — routinely powered through arm-tackle attempts. Thick, powerful legs to churn through contact. Used as change-up runner and could possess the skill set to be a third-down back if needed.

Slot machine who works the underneath very effectively. Ate up zone defenses consistently. Good quickness, flexibility (he’s taken yoga for years) and change-of-direction skill to shimmy through traffic and readily gain yards after the catch.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 19: Wide receiver Amari Rodgers #3 of the Clemson Tigers catches a 67-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium on December 19, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers does damage from the slot. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Fearless working the middle and will hold up to safeties’ hits. Great vision to find creases and exploit defenses’ holes. Nice concentration to time up jump balls and adjust to off-target throws.

Displayed deep-threat ability in 2020 we really didn’t know he had previously. Hauled in 19 passes 10 yards or more downfield last season (after only 17 such completions in his first three seasons combined) and took the tops off of some defenses. Very good linear speed to stress the deep part of the field.

Outstanding experience — four-year contributor for elite program with plenty of big-game tests in his career. Tough, reliable, smart and humble — well-regarded by teammates and coaches.

Downside: Can he separate vertically? We saw more of him testing the deep part of the field as a senior, but that was primarily against zone. Showed good separation in Senior Bowl one-on-one drills, but we’ve not seen a lot of it in games.

Was surrounded by elite offensive talent at every position at Clemson. Caught passes from pro-caliber QBs such as Trevor Lawrence, the assumed No. 1 pick in 2021. Wasn’t the No. 1 target until his senior season and doesn’t profile as your typical NFL WR1. Might not be able to stack talented corners with elite physical traits.

Unusual WR body with limited length (5-foot-9 1/2, 74-inch wingspan and 30-inch arms) could leave him confined to a slot-only role as a receiver. Below-average hand size (9 1/2 inches).

Typically has very good hands but will drop some catchable balls in spurts, such as early in the 2020 season (when he may have been pressing too much). Occasionally will start running before he secures the ball.

Didn’t face a lot of man coverage — and hardly ever faced press. Versatile player but might lack a single superpower. Solid punt returner but might not be special at it in the NFL.

Best-suited destination: For teams that value tough, strong and quick players in the slot, Rodgers would be a perfect third option in the passing game. He might grow into a WR2 role in time but shouldn’t be asked to consistently win outside.

Did you know: Rodgers is the son of former Tennessee QB Tee Martin, who now is the receivers coach for the Baltimore Ravens.

Player comp: Rodgers’ play style and body dimensions give off serious Devin Duvernay and Christian Kirk vibes.

Expected draft range: Round 3