The Green Bay Packers depth chart lists third-round pick Richard Rodgers as the team’s fourth-string tight end, but that unofficial hierarchy of the roster seems to be more of a formality than it is accurate. All indications this summer have been that Rodgers has the inside track on a spot in Green Bay’s starting lineup.
An inconsistent performer at California who had just 59 career receptions and 896 receiving yards in college, Rodgers was seen as more of a long-term project than an instant fix when the Packers selected him with the No. 98 overall pick.
The Packers, however, seem to have other plans with Rodgers. Considered “an MVP of organized team activities” this spring by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rodgers’ ascension as a playmaker has continued into the preseason.
He started at tight end for the Packers in their opener against the Tennessee Titans and made key plays as both a pass-catcher and blocker during his time in the game.
Rodgers came out of California as an unproven receiver and unpolished blocker, but he’s seemingly made great strides in both of those areas since being drafted. A big target at 6’4” and 257 pounds, Rodgers lacks top-end speed but could be a vertical threat in the middle of Green Bay’s offense nonetheless.
His competition for the starting job is likely to continue throughout the preseason with Brandon Bostick, who has been taking increased work with the first-team offense this week after a solid performance of his own against the Titans, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky.
Even so, it would seem that Rodgers, considering how quickly he has established himself as the potential best option in a relatively weak position group, is a good bet to be a Week 1 starter if he continues to make plays and show improvement over the course of Green Bay’s final three preseason games.
All measurables courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
Dan Hope is an NFL/NFL Draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.