In this year’s NFL draft the Green Bay Packers made nine selections. All nine prospects bring with them hope and intrigue. Like with all NFL teams’ draft classes, the Packers are hoping their draft class can contribute in 2021 and beyond. The Packers draft class is made up of some very intriguing players. However, there is one player that seems to stand out. Wide receiver Amari Rodgers possesses some intangibles that have been missing in the Green Bay Packers wide receiver group.
Amari Rodgers Pegged to Fill the Green Bay Packers Need at Slot Receiver
Prior to this year’s NFL draft, general manager Brian Gutekunst hadn’t selected a wide receiver since the 2018 NFL draft. In 2018, he selected three wide receivers: J’Mon Moore (fourth round), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth round), and Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth round).
Out of the three wide receivers, Valdes-Scantling has been the most successful. In his three seasons with the Packers, he has caught 97 passes for 1,723 yards with 10 touchdown receptions. While he has been the most successful, his play has been similar to riding a roller coaster. At times, he looks to be the deep threat the Packers have lacked. At other times, he has struggled with catching the ball.
Moore, the first of Gutekunst’s three wide receiver selections, was a downright bust. He lasted just one season with the Packers, catching just two passes for 15 yards. He was cut in training camp in 2019.
St. Brown, the last wide receiver selected in 2018, has struggled as well. In his rookie campaign, he displayed some promise. That season, he caught 21 passes for 368 yards. However, an injury in training camp in 2019 caused him to miss the season. In his return last season, he caught just seven passes for 117 yards with one touchdown reception. St. Brown heads into this year’s training camp facing an uphill climb to make the roster.
Gutekunst’s track record of selecting wide receivers isn’t overly impressive. But he is hoping that will change with the selection of Amari Rodgers in this year’s draft. Rodgers appears to have the skillset to make a mark in 2021.
A True Slot Wide Receiver
The Packers haven’t had the luxury of a true slot receiver since Randall Cobb. From 2011-2018, Cobb manned the slot for the Packers. During that time, he became a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers. Over that span, he caught 470 passes for 5,524 yards with 41 touchdown receptions. He also, during the early part of his Packers career, was Green Bay’s primary kickoff and punt returner.
Gutekunst and the Packers are hoping that Amari Rodgers can fill Cobb’s shoes. Rodgers is already drawing comparisons to Cobb. Both aren’t the fastest, but both possess moves to make would-be tacklers miss. Both are slight in height (Cobb is 5’10 while Rodgers is 5’9″), which makes both an ideal fit to play out of the slot. However, Rodgers has more of a thicker build and outweighs Cobb (212 lbs. to 192 lbs.).
In recent history, the Packers wide receiver group has lacked a smaller shifty receiver who can man the slot receiver. Last season, Green Bay’s top three wide receivers were Davante Adams (6’1″), Allen Lazard (6’5″), and Valdes-Scantling (6’4″). Gutekunst emphasizes taller wide receivers. However, because of that, the Packers haven’t gotten a lot of production out of the slot. A position that is a better fit with a smaller shifty wide receiver.
During his time at Clemson, Rodgers played both in the slot as well as on the outside. While he did both, he was more of a threat in the slot. This past season, while lining up both on the outside as well as the inside, he caught 77 passes for 1,020 yards with seven touchdown receptions.
Trevor Lawrence 67-yard DIME to Amari Rodgers 🐅🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 19, 2020
However, slot receiver isn’t the only place that Amari Rodgers is expected to help out the Packers.
A Possible Solution at Punt and Kickoff Returner
The slot receiver isn’t the only position where the Packers have missed Cobb. The Packers haven’t had a true punt and kickoff returner since Gutekunst and the Packers let him walk in free agency. Gutekunst and the Packers have tried filling the position with other players, but haven’t been successful in finding a replacement. Last season, they tried filling it with veteran Tavon Austin. However, Austin failed to shine and the Packers chose not to re-sign him this off-season.
Packers new special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton is hoping that Amari Rodgers can fill the returner spot. Rodgers has experience returning punts. During his four years at Clemson, he returned 68 punts for 529 yards with a 7.8 yards per return average. Two of those punts he returned for touchdowns. That experience should make him a prime candidate to take over the punt return duties for the Packers in 2021.
While he only returned just two kickoffs at Clemson, he will be given every opportunity to fill that position for the Packers. His ability to make plays in the open field and make tacklers miss makes him a very good fit to be a solid kickoff returner.
Drayton is looking for athletic players to contribute and turn around the Packers special teams unit. Amari Rodgers looks to be the exact type of player he needs to do so.
Amari Rodgers 87-yds to the HOUSE 😤 pic.twitter.com/NPjbiJ48Um
— Footballism™ (@FootbaIIism) September 15, 2019
Another Weapon for Aaron Rodgers
Many Packers fans, especially daily Packers podcasters, believe that Gutekunst has provided Aaron Rodgers with enough weapons to succeed. That assessment is one that we don’t agree with.
Except for Davante Adams, who former general manager Ted Thompson selected, the Packers don’t possess a pass catcher that can make plays on every down. They do have pass catchers, like Valdes-Scantling, Lazard, and tight end Robert Tonyan, who can contribute, but not on a consistent basis as Adams has.
But that could change with Amari Rodgers. Rodgers, the son of Tee Martin, has a good knowledge of the game, something Aaron Rodgers likes out of a wide receiver. If Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers (which is up in the air at this point), Amari Rodgers could be the type of weapon that the Packers offense has needed.
Gutekunst hasn’t had much luck in drafting a wide receiver. He is hoping that changes with the selection of Amari Rodgers.
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