Oregon State Junior
40: 4.64, 4.50e
Shifty and dangerous runner in space because of his excellent footwork, balance, and lateral burst. Has good vision and does a good job finding cutback lanes and setting up defenders. Is patient, following his blocks. Capable between the tackles because he can follow his blockers, sneaking through creases, and hard to locate for defenders behind big blockers. Finds ways to pick up extra yardage in short yardage situations. Has the quickness and burst to bounce things outside able to make defenders miss on the edge. Keeps feet moving after contact and has good power packed in a compact form to fight for extra yards and shows toughness. Manages to avoid the big hits because of his excellent vision. Slips tackles and is able to shed most arm tackles. Occasionally will lower the shoulder and bulldoze a defensive back. Has good, strong hands as a receiver. Tracks the ball well and can easily adjust to most throws. Willing blocker that is able to chip a pass rusher or cut a blitzer. Will throw his weight around downfield as a blocker for his scrambling quarterback or wide receiver.
Lacks size and can wear down. Will have more trouble matching up at the next level. Doesn't match up well with most pass rushers for similar reasons in pass protection. Will miss some assignments in pass protection. Will lose yardage at times trying to break things loss.
Rodgers is a small, but very gifted runner in a small frame that has all the tools you look for to overcome those issues. Durability is going to be his biggest obstacle at the next level, and he dealt with his share of injuries while at Oregon State. He missed the end of his freshman year with a shoulder injury. But he had 259 carries for 1253 yards (4.8 avg), 11 touchdowns, 29 receptions in 11 games. He had a breakout performance in an upset win over USC that year where he had 186 yards on 37 carries and 2 scores against what was billed as the greatest college defense ever. Came back as a sophomore with 273 carries for 1440 yards (5.3 avg), 21 touchdowns, 78 receptions in 13 games. Not as productive as a junior, partially due to the injury to his brother, James, made him the sole focus of opposing defenses. Still managed 256 carries for 1184 yards (4.6 avg), 14 touchdowns, 44 receptions in 12 games. Also had 2 touchdown passes on his lone 2 pass attempts. He is only 21, and had a daughter born this past September. His uncle is former Eagles and 49ers safety Michael Lewis.
Rodgers reminds me of Warrick Dunn, but has a thicker frame than Dunn and at his current weight is probably somewhere between Dunn and Maurice Jones-Drew. Like Dunn, he has excellent vision, footwork, and burst to avoid big hits that should make him much more durability than a player his size should be. Also, he'll work best in a zone blocking scheme where his vision, burst, patience, will fit well on those stretches and slants. He is a very good option in the passing game, just like Dunn was in Tampa Bay. I think he has the potential to be a feature back for a zone blocking scheme like Dunn was later in his career, and MJD is in Jacksonville. But I do think the best way to develop him will be using him more as a third down back early in his career. He can make an immediate impact on third downs and as a change of pace running back in the right offense. For the enterprising offensive coordinator, he could be a similar asset in an offense as Reggie Bush, although he's not quite as fast and explosive as Bush is. But if Rodgers can stay healthy, he'll be a good NFL running back. Most teams will negatively judge him by his lack of size, but his ability to avoid big shots and find daylight means I don't think it would be as big a negative for a lesser player. He's been small his whole life and has managed to overcome it thus far, and I don't see it being a major obstacle at the next level. He'll be a good pro that is capable of rushing 15-20 times most weeks and be a major asset in the passing game. I think he's as capable of being as good a pro as players like Dunn, MJD, and Ray Rice are today, if not better.
Rodgers would be a good change of pace back in Atlanta, but in the Mularkey system, he would primarily be a third down back. And because of the Falcons favor more man blocking, they probably won't maximize his production on the ground. But they could certainly make up for it in the passing game, and he could easily be the team's primarily third down back taking over for Snelling and being a guy that can catch 60+ receptions as a capable outlet for Ryan. As a rookie, he's certainly good enough to get 5-8 touches per game spelling Turner. And eventually as he develops, he would be used more on the ground and probably be a guy that most weeks could give the team 8-12 carries, but he's not going to get much more than that. The Falcons would probably use him to split carries with Snelling down the road, and to make that be most effective would likely have the team moving to a more pass-oriented offense.
Rodgers has first round talent for the enterprising zone-blocking team. BUt because of the questions about his size and durability and the fact that he won't be a feature back in most offenses makes him more of an early second round value.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Scouting reports of the running backs and fullbacks in the 2011 Draft.
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