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Da'Rick Rogers was perhaps the most hyped undrafted free agent after the 2013 NFL draft, and had first-round football ability. Concerns about his character dropped him out of the draft entirely, and arrests paired with failed drug tests scared NFL front offices away from him.
His obvious skill made him look impressive early in the offseason. Regardless, Rogers was on thin ice with new Bills head coach Doug Marrone and could afford few mistakes. He looked good enough to work with the first team offense for some time, but the Bills saw fit to release him—a crowded young roster with rookies Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods didn't leave much room for Rogers, but he's talented enough to play as a starter in the NFL.
His preseason wasn't extraordinarily impressive, but he only played 34 snaps. Accumulating two receptions for 12 yards and a touchdown was perhaps the best he could do with limited time, and he certainly deserves another shot with the NFL.
Matt Waldman, a talent evaluator who composes wide receiver rankings independent of off-field issues, ranked Rogers as his 10th-best receiver and had very kind words to say about Rogers in his for-pay draft report (among the best in the country):
If Rogers adds another 5-10 pounds of muscle, you’re looking at a player with Dwayne Bowe or Kenny Britt’s potential. The difference is that I think Rogers got his bouts of immaturity out of the way earlier than the two players I mentioned and he’s a more fluid player than Britt.
Taking weekly drug tests at Tennessee Tech, a junior college he had to attend as a result of his dismissal at Tennessee, Rogers tried proving his sincerity and development as a player both mentally and emotionally. He passed every one of those tests, but his extensive history was still enough to keep him from being drafted.
Tailed by a drug history and waived, Rogers' career may eventually mirror former Vikings great Cris Carter, who was waived from Philadelphia following concerns about his drug use. That's not the only comparison to Carter that Rogers has been subject of, either.
His former assistant coach at Tennessee, Charlie Baggett, made even more stunning comparisons than Matt Waldman, via Robert Klemko of USA Today:
Da'Rick is the second-smartest football player I've been around, and (Hall of Famer) Cris Carter is the first. Da'Rick doesn't know how to be a pro like Cris Carter was, but he can immediately comprehend things the normal guy his age takes time to learn.
Should Rogers flash only a portion of that ability, he's well worth a roster spot with the Vikings.
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