Yes, the workouts were only done in shorts and helmets, but rookie tight end Richard Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers stood out last week at the team's most recent OTA.
Count quarterback Aaron Rodgers (no relation) among those who were impressed with the rookie who also hailed from the University of California, just like No. 12 did. Aaron gave his take on the talents of the new No. 89 via Packers.com:
When we made the pick, some of the so-called experts on the draft channel said that he was a late sixth round pick, they had him, as far as a grade. Which is pretty laughable when you watch the talent that he’s got and the ability.
It’s helmets and shorts, but you’ve got to be excited about his body type and the hands. He’s made some incredible catches. He makes it look easy. I think he's really going to push for some playing time if he can transfer what he has done in the spring to the fall and have the potential to be an impact player.
Head coach Mike McCarthy also noticed the ability of Rodgers as well, as he talked about one of his new tight ends via Packers.com:
“Big-time catch today. I just think he’s a natural in space. I’m excited to see him when we get into the in-line work into training camp, but as far as all of the movement, playing in space, picking up the scheme, I think Richard’s off to a very good start.”
The 6'4", 257-pound Rodgers sort of flew under the radar in college because he had to play in two different offenses during his time at Cal.
In his sophomore year, he played the traditional tight end position under then head coach Jeff Tedford. In his junior year after dropping some weight, he played out wide in the "Bear Raid" spread offense put together by new head coach Sonny Dykes.
In his career at Cal, Rodgers had 59 receptions for 896 yards, two touchdowns and an average of 15.2 yards a catch.
On Friday, I had another opportunity to talk with scout Chris Landry on Steve Duemig's radio show, and I wanted to get Landry's take on how impressive Rodgers had looked at the most recent OTA by the Packers which got No. 12's attention.
Chris was not surprised:
"He's an athletic guy, so he's definitely going to look good at this point. Certainly, he's going to have to improve his route-running to become a factor in the passing game.
"Listen, that offense has a lot of weapons and certainly by staying healthy and by protecting Rodgers upfront, they should be very good. There's a good reason why they are very happy and Aaron is very happy."
The key for Rodgers is to continue making progress during the upcoming minicamp later in June and then training camp in late July. As Landry mentioned, Rodgers needs to improve aspects of his game. Besides route-running, he will also need to improve his blocking technique.
But Rodgers is off to a good start so far in Green Bay and it's possible that general manager Ted Thompson may have found another hidden gem when he selected Rodgers in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft.
If he comes anywhere close to playing like the first Rodgers who Thompson selected out of Cal in 2005, I think Packer Nation will be quite pleased.