There’s no question that Packers wide receiver Amari Rodgers had a disappointing rookie season. Clemson’s third-round pick was limited offensively, hitting just 10 percent of the offensive rush for the Packers.
Rodgers finished the season with just 45 yards receiving and no touchdowns. On special teams, he has difficulty judging and shooting and when to return to kickoff. His average punt return was 8.3 yards per run by the Pacers, and he averaged just 18.1 yards per attempt when returning the ball.
There were forces against Amari Rodgers last year. After the Packers drafted him, general manager Brian Gutconst traded Randall Cobb at the request of Aaron Rodgers. Cobb and Amari Rodgers are receivers of similar size and skill, both best suited for slot assignments.
Then you add the fact that Aaron Rodgers has trouble trusting rookie receivers. Freshmen need to earn the quarterback’s trust by proving they’ll be in the right place at the right time. Historically, this has not been easy to do.
Despite these factors, wide receiver coach Jason Flabble doesn’t see Cobb’s presence as an excuse for Amari Rodgers’ disappointing first season in the NFL. “I won’t let Amari know [Cobb] Right here,” Frable told reporters this week. “It’s your job to beat Randall or beat our Z. Although he plays slot machines, I have him work out at Z, which he has done before. His performance was not at their level at all. That’s the reality of it, right? It’s not that he’s bad, it’s that he’s not doing the high-level things that Randall or Z, Lazard do. “
Many NFL players took a step forward in their second and third seasons in the league. For Packers receivers like Jordy Nelson, Cobb and Davante Adams, it took them several seasons to figure out how to succeed at the highest level of football.
Amari Rodgers appears to be investing time in improving his game this offseason. “The biggest thing we’ve ever done, I’ve talked to him this offseason, how do you gain confidence? Well, you work and train harder than ever,” Vrable explained. “So if you look at him now, he already looks faster and stronger than ever. He’s in the best shape of his life. His mentality is, ‘I’m going to be No. 1 in all three positions’ people. “He’s good for him.”
Both Vrable and Cobb saw the progress of Amari Rodgers going OTA this spring. “His route has been cleaner and clearer,” Vrable said. “I feel really good about Amari. Kobe bumped into me the other day and said, ‘Yo, you can feel it in him. “I just smiled and said ‘It’s just getting started. When the pads are on and the lights are on, we’ll see where it is.'”
There are definitely opportunities. Now that Adams has been traded to the Raiders, the Packers won’t have their top receiver from 2021. Marquez Valdes-Scantlin, who was also a top-three in Green Bay last year, signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. This presents an opportunity for receivers currently on the roster to play a bigger role this season. Allen Lazard and Cobb are also back, and the competition is tight. The Packers also signed veteran Sammy Watkins this year and drafted Christian Watson, Romeo Dubs and Samory Toure.
Cobb can also serve as a mentor to Amari Rodgers. Just before last month’s draft, Cobb touted patience with the former Clemson star. “What we’re doing isn’t easy, anyone who thinks you can walk into a place and be great … it’s a process,” Cobb said. “So, give it some time. Some people take longer to bloom. It’s about me helping him understand and build confidence, know who he is, and let him continue to grow.”
Adams and Nelson are starting to really blossom in their third seasons. Cobb exploded in his second year, when he had 80 catches for 954 yards and eight touchdowns. In the past, rookies have had more established receivers on the depth chart in their second season. With Adams and MVS gone, Amari Rodgers’ depth chart has broadened this season.
The opportunity is there for Amari Rodgers to seize. If possible, his future is still bright.