When Ray-Ray McCloud announced last month he was going to forgo his senior season at Clemson and enter the 2018 NFL Draft, a lot of people were surprised.
Clemson was not expecting the Tampa native to leave Tigertown early, especially considering he was just filling into his new role as a starter at wide receiver and as a reliable playmaker. But, McCloud felt like it was time for the next chapter in his life and he decided to move on to his dream of playing in the NFL.
With McCloud now off to the NFL, it leaves the door open for freshman Amari Rodgers to step in and see what he can do. At 5-foot-9, 210-pounds, Rodgers is a little bigger than McCloud and plays the position more bullish, like former Tiger Artavis Scott did.
In other words, instead of trying to zigzag his way to a big gain, like McCloud was known for, Rodgers will engage in contact if he has to and will try and run through a defender.
However, like McCloud, Rodgers does have some wiggle to him and has good speed as well. He is faster than Scott was and has the potential to separate himself downfield from a defensive back.
Rodgers, who was second on the depth chart behind McCloud at the end of the season, played quite a bit down the stretch in the 2017 season, finished his first year with 19 catches for 123 yards, most coming on pop passes. However, he did catch a 16-yard pass in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. He also caught three passes in the ACC Championship game against Miami, which matched his season high.
With McCloud gone, Rodgers will also move up to be the number one candidate for punt returner. He had two returns in 2017 for 15 yards as McCloud’s backup.
Rodgers will compete with Cornell Powell for the top spot at the field position at wide receiver. Powell (6-0, 205) started the year as McCloud’s backup, but finished the season third on the depth chart behind Rodgers.
Powell caught 8 passes for 57 yards, though he did catch one touchdown.
–Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports