Da'Rick Rodgers   WR   Tennessee Tech

TALENT BOARD ROUND  4

 

STRENGTHS

Da'Rick has excellent overall talent to play the wide receiver position at a high level for the team that drafts him.  He has nice size, strength and speed.  He shows on film to have good hands to catch the ball.  With long legs and long arms, Da'Rick has the ability to go deep and catch the ball.  He is quick in and out of his breaks to gain the needed separation for the underneath routes and, in the open field, shows excellent vision to gain yards after the catch.  He is smart; he understands down and distance to move the chains.  He loves crossing routes because he can out-stride most corners and safeties to get good separation and pick up big time yardage.  He is very difficult to handle in the slot because of his size and long strides which should give him the chance to impact at the next level.  Da'Rick has good overall talent, but as I always say...it takes more than talent to play in the NFL.

 

CONCERNS

I can't speak to this kid's off-field issues because the reporting of off-field issues can sometimes have an agenda.  I'm going to tell you what I see on the film only.  I don't see the second gear that will make it easy for Da'Rick to get deep at the next level unless he learns to run better deep routes and set up his opponent.  When lined up on the outside against the SEC teams last year, he was easy to move off his route and he struggled when challenged physically off the line.  He was effective running crossing routes and quick slants on the outside, but he doesn't show the same prowess running all the routes on the outside.  He struggled to keep his composure and would allow his opponents to get into his head and intimidate him when he felt he was being targeted.  In his defense, he recovered quickly when the coaches called plays that allowed him to have some success, which meant moving him to the slot position.  Da'Rick is better in the slot because he gets a free release off the line and is quicker and faster than most players he goes up against.  I question his football intelligence as a zone receiver because he doesn't run those types of routes.  Most of the curls and stop routes he runs are in the end zone and not out in the middle of the field.  Physically, he still has a lot to work on:  route running, blocking and becoming more consistent catching the ball.  Da'Rick plays the game like he is motivated by money.  He wants to make the big bucks.  Nothing wrong with that; however, do you trust him after he receives that money to show up and work to be better than he is right now?  Based on my film study of Da'Rick, that's still an open question for me.

 

BOTTOM LINE

Da'Rick is a "rent a receiver" type of player.  He will play with a chip on his shoulder because his talent suggests he should be drafted in the 1st round of this draft, but on the field there are enough smoldering fires to suggest that he should not be drafted until much later in this draft.  He will play hard for his first contract to get to free agency in the hope that he will make the big bucks.  Who knows what will happen after that.  He did well this year after transferring from Tennessee, but I'm not sure there was any difference in his play on the field.  He still impacted most of the time on crossing routes and run after the catch underneath routes, but still struggled getting deep consistently.  He kept up the trash talk, daring opponents to make him a target and he still did not run any routes against zone coverage because of the offensive system Tennessee Tech runs.  That being said, the improvement on the field was negligible, but he did seem to behave himself off the field.  Personally for me, it would be difficult to take Da'Rick, but there will be others who will see the talent and think they can coach this kid up.  When I profile players, I try to look at a player from an owner's point of view and I just think there is plenty of receiver talent in this draft that I would prefer to invest in other than Da'Rick.  My instincts, experience and analysis tell me that Da'Rick will not be able to handle the responsibility and leadership role that a #1 wide receiver has to be able to handle in the NFL.  Maybe if I interviewed him and asked him questions (that I know would be hard for him to answer) about his play on the field, I would change my mind.  Unfortunately, I just don't think Da'Rick will work very hard on his craft to be much better than he is right now.  Maybe he will prove me wrong -- it's been done.  Look for Da'Rick to make an impact as a slot receiver and on special teams.  Knowing that still doesn't make me want to draft him until the 4th or 5th round personally.  I prefer to develop a receiver rather than rent one. 

 

Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart

Feb/2013