Third-round pick Amari Rodgers feels he's a perfect fit for Packers

Clemson receiver and returner considers Randall Cobb “a big brother”

WR Amari Rodgers

GREEN BAY – Amari Rodgers was barely 10 years old when he watched Randall Cobb light up the Southeastern Conference every Saturday afternoon.

Rodgers' father, Tee Martin, was Cobb's position coach at the University of Kentucky in 2010 during Cobb's breakout season in which the future Packers receiver amassed more than 1,400 total yards and 12 touchdowns, and a kinship was born.

Once Cobb was drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers the following year, Rodgers made it known his dream NFL scenario was to follow in those footsteps.

"He's like a big brother to me," said Rodgers. "My whole middle school career, my whole high school career, he's always been in my corner giving me tips on the game."

On Friday night, Rodgers achieved that once-impossible goal when the Packers traded up seven spots to draft the highly regarded Clemson standout in the third round (85th overall).

Naturally, any young, up-and-coming receiver would love to share an offense with a future Hall of Famer like Aaron Rodgers or a four-time Pro Bowler like Davante Adams, another one of Amari Rodgers' favorites.

But really, Rodgers felt that door cracked open when Cobb left Green Bay. After the Pro Bowl receiver moved on in 2018, those close to Rodgers playfully wondered who better to potentially follow in Cobb's footsteps than him?

"Since Randall Cobb left, everybody in my family felt like they haven't had a slot player like him," said Rodgers. "They just felt like it was a good fit for me to go there with Aaron Rodgers, him being the prolific quarterback that he is, and with Davante, being the prolific receiver that he is, to bring me in to take a little attention off of him. I feel like that'll be perfect."

While Rodgers and Cobb (now with the Houston Texans) are different players at different points of their football careers, there's little question the rookie third-round pick brings a skill set and body type to Green Bay's receivers room that's been missing since Cobb left in free agency three years ago.

At 5-foot-10, 212 pounds, Rodgers can do a little of everything. He lined up for two seasons outside at Clemson and two seasons in the slot, racking up 2,160 total yards and 16 touchdowns.

Rodgers doesn't mind being "a gadget guy," either. He's used to motioning in the backfield on jet sweeps and toss plays, and is a ready-and-willing returner who handled punts throughout most of his career at Clemson.

All of which check key boxes for the Packers with how much Head Coach Matt LaFleur and his coaches utilized veteran Tyler Ervin (currently a free agent) in that role the past two seasons. 

"He fills so many holes for us," said Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst of Rodgers. "That's one of the reasons why we traded up for him, not only as a punt returner and a slot receiver, but as you guys have seen over the past couple years the creativity that Matt has within his offense, some of the jet sweeps and screens."

Along with gaining a few pointers from Cobb, Rodgers also has benefited from advice from his father, who quarterbacked Tennessee to an undefeated season in 1998 and the football program's first NCAA Division I-A national championship.

Rodgers was offered a chance to follow in his dad's footsteps with the Volunteers but instead chose to play at Clemson for head coach Dabo Swinney, a receiver coach by trade.

As the son of a coach and celebrated college athlete, Rodgers grew into a team leader and locker-room favorite at Clemson. So much so, Swinney released a 414-word statement shortly after the Packers drafted Rodgers about how much the senior wideout meant to the Tigers' program.

Because for as much success as Rodgers enjoyed there, he still overcame a great deal of adversity after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2018. He rehabbed two, sometimes three, times a day to get back on the field within six months.

"This kid has handled himself like a pro since I met him, and I mean in every aspect of his life," Swinney said. "He is built like a running back, but he has the length of a 6-foot-3 wideout and plays long."

It's all led to this, a dream opportunity to join one of the NFL's most decorated franchises. While the Packers hadn't drafted a Clemson player in 17 years, Rodgers' family felt all along that Green Bay was going to be where he landed this weekend.

Now that Rodgers is on the roster, the rookie receiver hopes to provide another explosive playmaker to both the Packers' offense and special-teams units.

"Everyone in my family was telling me, 'It was the Packers, it was the Packers,'" Rodgers said. "When it happened, it was just like crazy. It was like God was watching over me and my family and already knew where I was going. It was crazy. I'm just ready for the opportunity."

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