After leading the Southeastern Conference in receptions as a sophomore, Da’Rick Rogers looked to be on the verge of a season that could have cemented his status as a first-round draft pick.
Unfortunately, he was forced to transfer to Tennessee Tech following his indefinite suspension from Tennessee this past summer.
Can he conquer himself and become the NFL star that he is capable of being? Or will maturity issues plague Rogers’ career and prevent him from reaching his full potential?
|+ Looks the part at 6'2 1/2", 217 pounds||- Maturity is a big question mark, has a checkered past|
|+ Very tough, makes challenging catches in traffic||- Lacks the speed to be a home run hitter in the NFL|
|+ Good release, physical and fairly sudden||- Not overly elusive after the catch, upright running style|
|+ Excellent athlete with impressive workout numbers||- May be too reliant on strength and athleticism|
Rogers certainly looks the part of an NFL wideout. At 6’2 ½” and 217 pounds, he possesses a muscular build that has drawn comparisons to Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones.
Not only does Rogers earn high marks for size, he was also one of the NFL Scouting Combine athletic standouts for his position.
He turned heads with his workout, showing well in the vertical jump (39.5”), broad jump (11’0”), short shuttle (4.06) and three-cone drill (6.71).
One knock, however, is that he does lack deep speed and plays very much to the 4.52 40-yard dash he ran in Indianapolis.
Rogers’ character has been the subject of much scrutiny. In 2010, prior to the official start of his college career, he was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for his role in a bar fight. Before his junior season started, he was suspended indefinitely at Tennessee after multiple violations of the school’s substance abuse policy. Later, he admitted to failing three drug tests while in Knoxville.
His new beginning came across the state at Tennessee Tech, where Rogers appeared to be more focused and committed to the sport. Only time will tell if maturity issues are behind him, and NFL teams may be approaching with caution.
With the Volunteers, Rogers gained experience running a complete route tree in Tennessee’s pro-style offense. This season, Tennessee Tech ran a spread offense featuring a large number of four and five-wide sets. At both schools, he was utilized all over the formation, running routes outside and from the slot.
For a big receiver, Rogers moves with the suddenness and fluidity of a much smaller player. He has a good release, is fairly quick to enter his routes and gains initial separation. Additionally, strength and competitiveness help him beat the jam with ease on a consistent basis.
The following screenshots illustrate just one of many occasions on which smaller defenders attempted to jam Rogers near the line of scrimmage. At nearly 220 pounds, he outweighs LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu by over thirty pounds.
Lined up in the slot on 3rd-and-8, Rogers is the primary target for quarterback Tyler Bray on this play. Showing impressive strength and leverage, he fights fire with fire as he beats the jam utilizing physicality.
After disengaging, he finds himself wide open in the middle of the field. Bray hits him at the 32-yard line, two yards past the first down marker, and Rogers rumbles into LSU territory. The Volunteers would gain 44 yards total on this play.
A tall receiver with fairly long arms and excellent leaping ability, Rogers boasts a wide catch radius. He routinely makes plays outside his frame and has flashed the ability to make the spectacular catch.
Rogers displays body control, adjusting well to poorly thrown passes. Also, he is able to use a big frame to shield defenders from the ball.
Though it rarely results in drops, he has a tendency to jump for passes when he does not need to.
While he may lack polish as a route runner, Rogers demonstrates the burst and short-area explosiveness to gain initial separation. What’s more, he is somewhat deceptive, changing speeds to help him separate. He may not be entirely crisp, but at Tennessee he ran a diverse route tree and crossed the middle of the field fearlessly.
At times Rogers is too reliant on strength and athleticism, getting a little sloppy and rounding off routes. He is not much of a deep threat, lacking the extra gear needed to separate vertically.
He may not play with savvy of others at his position, but shows good awareness of the first-down marker, end zone and sideline. When the plays break down, he works in conjunction with his quarterback to create passing lanes.
Rogers is very tough with excellent concentration, consistently bringing the ball down in traffic. Possessing long arms and ball skills, he excels catching passes outside of his frame.
That being said, he lets too many passes come into his body and the ball occasionally hits the ground as a result of him concentrating on options after the catch.
Run After Catch
One of the strongest receivers in this class, Rogers has a physical running style, displaying balance and power with the ball in his hands. Occasionally, he also impresses with his vision, finding cutback lanes.
While he excels at breaking tackles, he is not so adept at making defenders miss.
Though he fights for yardage, Rogers is not lethal after the catch due to a lack of an explosive breakaway gear. A bit of an upright runner, he is not overly quick or elusive.
Rogers relishes the physical side of the game and occasionally flashes some vinegar as a blocker.
Still, Tennessee typically took him off the field on running downs. While lack of effort does not appear to be a glaring problem, he lacks technique and only uses his arms as a blocker. If he is able to improve technically, Rogers has the strength and competitiveness to excel in the running game.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
While may draft analysts have compared Rogers to Julio Jones, I see him as being more similar to former Carolina Panthers receiver MuhsinMuhammad.
A big, athletic flanker, he has ability to develop into a very good starter. Though physically he looks the part of a top receiver, a team will get the most out of him if they allow him to complement a more dynamic target.
Regardless of who drafts Rogers, he should quickly emerge as a “go-to” option on third down and in the red zone.
Draft Projection: Late second to early fourth round