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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Tennessee Tech WR Da’Rick Rogers

04.16.13 at 7:09 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

DA’€™RICK ROGERS

Position: Wide receiver

School: Tennessee

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 217 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-SEC preseason first team, 2011 All-SEC first team (AP)

What he brings: A tall receiver with solid speed who often is too physical for defensive backs to even know what to do with, Rogers is a fantastic talent. Such skills have drawn comparisons to a player such as Terrell Owens from the likes of Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.

However, like the player to whom he’€™s drawn some comparisons, Rogers is a major head case, a label he earned when he was arrested before his true freshman season even began and solidified when he was kicked off the team at Tennessee last August after his third failed drug test.

Rogers, who is one of three former Volunteers receivers we’re previewing before the draft, was set to be part of an unprecedented receiver corps his junior season before finding his way to FCS-level Tennessee Tech for a year. As opposed to deep threats Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, Rogers was set to be the premiere interior threat in the passing game. Not only does he work the middle of the field well, using his body to secure the catch, he’€™s also a load once he gets moving with his strength and surprising quickness. On the outside, Rogers isn’€™t quite as explosive, but he won’€™t be abused in press coverage and will use his superior leaping ability to go up and get the ball.

Rogers tested extremely well at the combine, posting a 39.5-inch vertical leap (tied for best among receivers) and a respectable 4.51 in the 40-yard dash. The performance that was most telling for Pats fans, though, was his 6.71-second 3-cone drill (fourth best among receivers). Such a mark from a receiver known for his size and strength certainly will draw Bill Belichick‘€™s attention.

In addition to his 3-cone time, Rogers’€™ ability to work through physical coverage and excel in the interior passing game may lend itself to the passing scheme that has been so successful for Tom Brady & Co. However, Rogers does need significant refinement in his route-running and effort levels, flaws that he would not get away with on any pro team, much less the Patriots.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2

Notes: It’€™s never been a question of talent for Da’€™Rick Rogers (pronounced DAY-rick), who projects to transition well as a big, physical receiver in the NFL. Throughout the draft process, he’€™s crossed his t’€™s and dotted his i’€™s with the media. When asked about his character concerns, he was upfront and humble in his responses.

“Simple. I was immature,’€ Rogers said when asked why it didn’€™t work out at Tennessee. ‘€œI had to take full responsibility, look in the mirror at who I was and what I was doing wrong. I did those things when I went to Tennessee Tech, and it humbled me a lot. I play with an edge, and I had to learn to control that edge off the field also. I had to learn how to fix my flaws, and life got easier.’€

At Tennessee Tech, Rogers was a paragon of discipline (in comparison, at least) passing all 10 drug tests he was subjected to while there. He also recorded 78 receptions for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns in his one season. But then again, that was expected. What wasn’t expected, though was his three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown against then-No. 4 Oregon four days after joining the team.

We’€™ve heard this song many times before where the reformed athlete has sworn that he’€™s changed. In many cases, it has proven to be true. Last year’€™s best example, Janoris Jenkins out of North Alabama, had a great season in St. Louis. Even in New England, players like Aaron Hernandez and Randy Moss have excelled after failing drug tests or driving their coaches crazy on other teams. The real question, though, is whether Rogers will keep singing the same tune once he reaches the pros.

Related articles: SI.com Tyrann Mathieu, Da’Rick Rogers respond well to character questions

MassLive.com: Da’Rick Rogers could be draft’s greatest value for team willing to overlook failed drug tests

Knoxville News Sentinel: Back for pro day, ‘humbled’ Da’Rick Rogers says he wants to rebuild bridge to UT

Video: Here’s a collection of highlights from Rogers’ 2011 season against some tough SEC opponents, including Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu of LSU.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Cordarrelle Patterson, Da'Rick Rogers
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