An in-Depth Look at the Packers' Most Intriguing Selection, TE Richard Rodgers

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIMay 13, 2014

Tight end Richard Rodgers is the most intriguing selection the Packers made in the NFL draft.
Tight end Richard Rodgers is the most intriguing selection the Packers made in the NFL draft.USA TODAY Sports

No one was surprised when the Green Bay Packers drafted a tight end in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft. However, most were unfamiliar with the name that was announced, Richard Rodgers.

Rodgers left the California Golden Bears after his junior season, which was quite a surprise. He played in 35 games over the course of his three seasons, and started in only 11 of them. His career numbers are even less impressive with only 59 receptions, 896 yards and two touchdowns while at Cal.

However, it's not what he did in college that makes him such an intriguing selection. What ultimately makes Rodgers so intriguing is not what he is now, but rather what he could potentially come in the future.

Let's take an in-depth look at what Rodgers brings to the Packers offense, how the team will ultimately use him and what his ceiling could be for Green Bay.

What the Scouts Say

If there is one thing that every analyst agrees on, it's the fact that Rodgers is far from a finished product. His greatest asset is his athleticism, which is the one thing you can't teach a prospect.

Just take a look at what Tony Pauline of had to say about Rodgers in his scouting report:

Large, athletic tight end prospect with an undeveloped game. Possesses a quick burst, extends to make catches away from his frame, and displays strong hands. Looks the ball in, takes a pounding but holds onto the throw. Solid route runner, uses his frame to shield away defenders and outmuscles opponents for the ball.

The key phrase to take away from Pauline is "underdeveloped game." While Rodgers will certainly be a tight end in the NFL, he played almost all wide receiver during his final college season.

CBS Sports' Dane Brugler had this to say about Rodgers:

Lanky athlete who has proven the ability to manipulate his weight to fit his team's offensive scheme. Very good initial quickness for the position, demonstrating the ability to beat defenders upfield with his burst or to gain the advantage while blocking, including on cut-blocks...A bit finesse in his play, relying more on his athleticism than physicality.

Once again the words "athlete" and "athleticism" are the key words to Brugler's scouting report above. Rodgers' athleticism is what made him a third-round pick for the Packers and it's his greatest strength heading into the league.

Overall, it shouldn't be surprising to anyone to see the Packers use Rodgers' rookie year as a sort of redshirt year. This way he can develop his game and change from an athlete to an NFL player.

How He'll Be Used

The first thing that you need to know about how the Packers plan on using Rodgers is that they won't plan on using him much at all during his rookie year. 

However, once he gets on the field, Rodgers won't be used like a traditional tight end. Instead, the Packers will likely have him line up in the slot the majority of the time. That way he can use his speed and athleticism to beat linebackers and safeties.

When the Packers do have him lined up along the offensive line, they'll probably have him run routes like the one you see in the video below.

On that play, Rodgers simply beats his man off the line of scrimmage, runs up the field and makes a play on the ball. He shows off his speed, athleticism, strength and playmaking abilities all on this one play. This would be the ideal type of offensive production that the Packers would get from Rodgers.

We could also see Rodgers playing some H-back for Green Bay where he lines up in the backfield. He'd need to become more polished as a blocker for this to happen, but it's definitely a possibility.

Once Rodgers gets acclimated to the NFL game, look for him to become part of the newest trend of tight ends who are more receiver than tight end.

Is He the Next Jermichael Finley?

When you look at what Rodgers can currently do and how he projects for the future, it's hard to not see numerous similarities to a young Jermichael Finley.

Finley failed to make much of a contribution during his rookie season, but really broke out during his second year in the league. Don't be surprised if Rodgers takes a similar career path.

The Packers would certainly benefit offensively from Rodgers being able to make an instant contribution, but it's not a necessity for the 2014 season. Green Bay already has tight ends Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick to combine with an extremely potent group of wide receivers.

What's most important for Rodgers during his rookie year is to develop the traits that all successful receiving tight ends have. He needs to become stronger and more consistent with his hands. It also wouldn't hurt for him to learn to block just a little.

If Rodgers could ultimately put up similar numbers to Finley in a few seasons, the Packers would most definitely be thrilled with their selection of him in the third round.


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