Darreus Rogers faces an uphill climb to hear his name called at the 2017 NFL Draft, but could make for an intriguing undrafted free agent.
It took Darreus Rogers a few years to truly blossom, but the wide receiver made himself invaluable for USC as a senior with clutch pass catching and reliable blocking.
In 2016, Rogers upped his production, hauling in 56 receptions for 696 yards and 4 touchdowns. He made impressive grabs game after game, using his exceptional body control and strong hands to secure the ball.
While Rogers’ ability is visible on his game tape — enough to earn him an invite to the NFL Combine — the draft process was never going to highlight his strengths.
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Physical testing at the Combine and USC’s Pro Day left no doubts about his limitations as an athlete — he ran a 4.90 40-yard dash, for instance.
The question going into the draft is which side NFL teams will weigh more heavily — his strength as a receiver or his measurables?
“He is well-built for the position with the my-ball mentality and ball skills that translate well to the NFL game, using his aggressive, natural plucking skills to be a solid possession target. However, his ordinary athleticism will limit ways to get him the ball at the next level, lacking the dynamic traits or savvy to consistently separate in coverage.”— Dane Brugler, CBS Sports
“Rogers is one part vertical receiver with great ball skills and no deep speed and one part possession receiver with below average route-running but very good hand-eye coordination. His size will work in his favor, but his lack of functional play speed could make the back end of a roster his final destination.”— Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
“He isn’t blazing fast, he isn’t super quick, and he can’t jump. He can catch the football, drag, and power through defenders though and looks the part of a potentially very reliable possession receiver at the next level that can produce for a team for a few years.”— Cadillactica, Hogs Haven
“Advanced age with below average production and athleticism are not a great combination. There are a lot of good wide receivers to consider in this class. But Rogers is not one of them I’d value highly.”— Jim Cobern, DraftCobern.com
The most telling hint about Rogers’ draft hopes comes via NFL.com via an anonymous scout: “I see some of the good things he does, but it almost doesn’t even matter to me because I know our coaches are going to want him off the board as soon as they see his 40 time.”
Rogers can hope that a team will take a chance on his football ability, but it seems more likely for the receiver to end up in the pool of undrafted free agents.
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That’s not necessarily a bad thing either as Rogers will have the chance to find a team that fits him well.
Either way, Rogers will have to fight tooth and nail to prove his worth to whatever pro team he lands with.