Clemson has been heralded ‘Wide Receiver U’ for a reason. The Tigers have produced nine draft picks since 2013, including three first-round draft-picks in DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Williams. Other active draft picks include Tee Higgins, Hunter Renfrow, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Deon Cain. Martavis Bryant would have been fantasy gold had various suspensions not derailed his playing career. Two under heralded prospects could be next in line as great Clemson Wide Receivers in the NFL.
The narrative will continue in the 2021 NFL Draft. Wide receivers Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell are intriguing prospects. They are not household names like Ja’Marr Chase, Rashod Bateman, Jaylen Waddle, or Heisman winner DeVonta Smith but could provide solid value to teams in the middle rounds of the draft. If you’re a dynasty league player, keep your eyes peeled for these two wideouts. Let’s dig a little deeper into who these players are and what team would best utilize their skill set.
Amari Rodgers is the son of former Tennessee Volunteers legend and current Baltimore Ravens wide receivers coach Tee Martin. Rodgers stands at 5’9 ½ but doesn’t play like your average small receiver. Rodgers is built like a truck at 211 pounds, and Clemson’s recent pro day, he ran a 4.40.
Although Rodgers played both outside and in the slot at Clemson, he figures to be primarily a slot receiver in the NFL. The combination of his pristine route running, speed, and build will make him a nightmare for defenders to defend in open space. If you’re a fan of YAC (yards after catch), Rodgers is your man. He finished his senior season with 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns.
Rodgers models his game after Jarvis Landry. Not too shabby of a wide receiver to emulate as he has never finished outside of a WR3 in fantasy. Rodgers’ speed alone will enable offensive coordinators to get creative and manufacture touches for him, much like the Carolina Panthers have done with Curtis Samuel in 2020. Rodgers is the more polished wide receiver of the two coming out of college, translating to more immediate success.
What Teams Make Sense For Amari Rodgers
Rodgers to Rodgers Connection?
Green Bay was thinking about the future when they drafted quarterback Jordan Love and running back AJ Dillion with their first and second-round selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. Will Green Bay finally draft for need and give Aaron Rodgers a viable supporting cast after falling short in the NFC Championship Game for the second straight season?
If the Packers decide to wait until day two of the NFL Draft, they could do no wrong with Rodgers. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are solid complementary receivers, but the Packers need a legit game-changer opposite star wideout Davante Adams. Randall Cobb (5-10, 195, 4.46 40) was a favorite of Rodgers in the slot for years. Slightly faster and more compound than Cobb, Rodgers would provide the Packers with game-breaking ability in the open field. Green Bay would be an ideal landing spot in both the short and long-term. If he lands there, Amari Rodgers is a must-have early in rookie drafts.
The Indianapolis Colts do not have many glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball. However, they would only be doing newly acquired quarterback Carson Wentz a favor with a stronger supporting cast at the wide receiver position.
T.Y. Hilton re-signed with the Colts on a one-year contract. There are no guarantees for the 31-year-old receiver beyond 2021 with the team, as he even hinted that retirement was an option. Parris Campbell has yet to showcase his talent consistently by missing 23 games in his short two-year career, and Zach Pascal is a complimentary possession receiver with limited explosiveness. Michael Pittman Jr. is a viable number two receiver at the NFL level. Besides Pittman Jr, none of those other wide receivers could be long-term answers at the position.
Amari Rodgers donning the horseshoe almost makes too much sense. Rodgers would provide an explosive inside presence the team is sorely lacking. The Colts have just three wide receivers under contract beyond 2021, so he would fill a need an immediate and long-term need for the Colts.
Steel City Bound?
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a propensity to find wide receiver studs in the NFL Draft after the first round. They have only drafted two first-round wideouts (Plaxico Burress, 2000 and Santonio Holmes, 2006) over two decades. However, the Steelers have found gems in the later rounds with Antwaan Randle El, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool.
The Steelers will only have two receivers under contract for the 2022 season as Smith-Schuster will be an unrestricted free agent again, along with James Washington. Rodgers could make his impact even sooner as he could supplant James Washington, who has been a disappointment early on in his career.
In a surprising move, the Steelers re-signed JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year contract. If the Steelers elect to let Smith-Schuster walk in 2022 as a free agent, Rodgers would be an ideal replacement. Smith-Schuster makes his living in the slot, and that’s where Rodgers does most of his damage.
The Steelers attempted an NFL-leading 42.9 passes per game. Expect their pass-happy trend to continue with the likely departure of running back James Conner and the shaky offensive line. Rodgers is an enticing prospect for a team like the Steelers and could make an immediate impact.
Clemson has had many standout receivers over the years causing Powell to often get lost in the shuffle. The fifth-year senior saw himself on the bottom of the depth chart behind Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, Renfrow, McCloud, and Higgins.
One could say patience was a virtue for Powell as he erupted onto the scene during the 2020 season by catching 53 passes for 882 yards and seven touchdowns. He had some elite performances in showcase games this season against fourth-ranked Notre Dame and the semi-final versus third-ranked Ohio State. He dominated Notre Dame by hauling in six passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. Powell also caught eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State while being covered by future NFL cornerback Shaun Wade. He is just one of just three Clemson wide receivers in school history to post back-to-back 150 yard games. The other two were Hopkins and Watkins, putting Powell in some pretty elite company.
Powell possesses the size scouts love in wide receiver prospects at 6’0 210 pounds. His compound frame, along with his hand size (10”), catch radius (10.05), and wingspan (79”), will allow Powell to win contested catches. While Powell didn’t possess blazing speed on tape, he did run a 4.47 40 during Clemson’s pro day.
What Teams Make Sense For Cornell Powell
Mouths To Feed In The Motor City
The Detroit Lions will have 300 plus targets available with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.’s departure and likely departures of unrestricted free agents Danny Amendola and Mohamed Sanu. The recently signed Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman are complementary receivers, but the rebuilding Lions will look to be adding a young receiver (or two) to their depth chart.
Powell could come in and not have to worry about the abundance of talent on the Lions’ depth chart, much like he did when he was at Clemson. The rebuilding Lions are not in win-now mode, so any rookie who comes in will have a solid case to showcase their talent immediately. Powell is an intriguing asset to monitor in dynasty if he lands with the Lions.
Music To Powell’s Ears?
The Tennessee Titans are razor thin at wide receiver with the recent departures of wide receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. Aside from AJ Brown, the Titans have depth but lack high-end talent in Marcus Johnson, Chester Rogers, and Cameron Batson. The Titans have 195 available targets with no Davis, Humphries, or tight end Jonnu Smith. Powell’s versatility would be an intriguing destination for the wide receiver needy Titans as they offer both playing time and volume.
Rodgers is the more explosive wide receiver of the two and will undoubtedly hear his name called in the second or third round of the NFL Draft. He will be a fun wide receiver to own in dynasty formats, given the upside he possesses. However, don’t sleep on Powell. The late bloomer will look to flourish in the right situation as a day three selection. Rodgers and Powell will look to maintain Clemson’s brand of ‘Wide Receiver U.’