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Make No Mistake, Small School Product Da'Rick Rogers is a Big-Time NFL Talent

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Make No Mistake, Small School Product Da'Rick Rogers is a Big-Time NFL Talent
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Photo courtesy of footballsfuture.com

Da’rick Rogers is an immensely talented wide receiver and a highly intriguing draft prospect for the upcoming 2013 NFL draft. On the field, Rogers' talent is that of a first rounder, but the circumstances leading to his suspension from the Tennessee football program after the 2011 season have his draft stock tumbling. Rogers is currently carrying a third round grade.

Rogers entered his sophomore season at Tennessee as a backup receiver, but things changed as starter Justin Hunter tore his ACL in the middle of September, forcing Rogers into a starting role. He responded incredibly well, leading the powerful SEC conference in receptions as a sophomore with 67. He also finished second in the conference in receiving yards and touchdowns. Rogers finished with 1,047 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

In August of 2012, Rogers found himself in trouble and suspended indefinitely from the Tennessee football program. Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley announced on Thursday, August 23 that Rogers was no longer with the team. Rogers immediately transferred to Tennessee Tech and played a week later, catching three passes for 75 yards and a score for the Golden Eagles.

Mike Organ of the Tennessean reported on Rogers’ comments on his suspension from the Tennessee football team.

“There were a couple of drugs tests,” said Rogers. “It wasn’t anything too crazy. It was about me being a young, immature guy, and those are things I’ve got to work on. I plan to do that.”

Rogers did not have a terrific season from a statistical perspective at the smaller school, but his talent was on display each and every week. Teams looked to take him away, and he still put up solid overall numbers. As a junior, he caught 61 passes, totaling 893 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rogers declared for the 2013 NFL draft and joined an extremely deep pool of wide receivers in the draft.

There are many aspects of Rogers’ game that NFL teams have to like. He is a playmaking receiver who is exceedingly dangerous with the ball in his hands. Rogers is going to generate a lot of yards after the catch because he is tough to bring down and will run through arm tackles. He is the perfect player to hit on the quick slant because he can take it the distance.

This video shows a great example of what Rogers is capable of doing. At the :38 second mark, Tennessee  Tech runs a wide receiver screen to Rogers who catches the ball on the Oregon 22-yard line. He shows a desire to take the ball into the heart of the defense, flashes some wiggle to make a defender miss and then showcases his speed by taking the ball in for a score.

Another thing that stands out his how well put together Rogers is. He has an incredibly athletic build and is well defined for the position.

He plays a tough brand of football, frequently taking big hits while holding onto the ball. Rogers is willing to make plays over the middle and will be an asset as a possession wide receiver for NFL teams.

Rogers has reliable, naturally soft hands and can make difficult catches look easy. He is extremely athletic and has rare body control to adjust to the ball in the air. He is going to make his quarterback look a little more accurate because of his ability to haul in poorly thrown passes. The following video showcases Rogers' ability to make really difficult catches look easy.

Rogers gets great separation from cornerbacks because of his quickness. He is quicker than fast and is a remarkably good route runner who gets out of his breaks extraordinarily quickly with precise footwork. He uses good natural instincts to find open spots in the defense.

He is a tough player to press at the line of scrimmage because he is physical and can run through the defender. As a sophomore playing in the SEC, he proved very difficult to cover and did a fantastic job against the physical corners in the conference.

Rogers is position versatile as he can line up wide as a split end or a flanker. He is also quick enough to serve as a slot receiver. Rogers is versatile enough to be highly productive in any spot on the field and is a player who isn’t limited to playing in a certain position.

Another thing that stands out in a positive way are hands, more like the size of his hands. When he catches the ball it disappears in them. They are enormous and make it easy for him to naturally catch the ball. Look at the picture below to see how big his hands are, and how small the ball looks.

Photo courtesy of www.chronicle.augusta.com

There are only a few weaknesses to see in Rogers’ game. He is a player who uses quickness and physicality to his advantage and is not a burner who can run away from everybody with long speed. He isn’t a slow player, but he isn’t A.J. Green either.

In addition to the long speed concerns, there are times on film where he seems to lose his focus while catching the ball and turning up the field. He doesn’t completely catch the ball and tends to drop a few balls because of the lack of concentration.

The biggest concern is the character issue, including the drug history. Players can’t help their teams if they are suspended, and Rogers will come into the NFL with a drug history. He is going to have to show teams that he is clean and that football is a priority. He is a player with character concerns and must prove himself in this area.

Rogers has a tantalizing blend of size and speed and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He is among a tremendously talented group of wide receivers in the draft, but there are things that stand out in a positive way that make him more intriguing than some of the others in the range where he will get drafted.

If Rogers can prove to teams that he is not a character risk and his issues are in the past, he will be a player who will get consideration in the middle part of the second round where he will start to become a good value.

If Rogers falls into the third round, he will be an exceptional value. Any team looking for a player who can make plays from the wide receiver position would have to consider him as his talents far outweigh the risk at that point of the draft.

There are many teams that could use Rogers’ talents, and he could be one of the steals of the draft because his on the field talent is that of a first round player. There is something about Rogers and his ability to make plays that makes him stand out from the other receivers that will be drafted around him.

When I watch film of Rogers, I consistently see little bits of a quicker version of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin. It would not surprise me to see Rogers have a very good NFL career and to have a great impact for the team that drafts him in 2013.

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