The Packers draft pick who probably has stood out the most in non-padded offseason practices so far is tight end Richard Rodgers.
In the three OTA practices that have been open to the media this spring, Rodgers has demonstrated the sure receiving hands that the Packers lauded when they selected him in the third round of this year’s draft.
Most notably, Rodgers today made a one-handed catch of an off-target and wobbly pass from No. 3 quarterback Scott Tolzien along the sidelines that was the standout play of practice for the day. Rodgers also has caught the ball well overall in the practices open to reporters.
GALLERY: Packers OTA practice, June 10
Aaron Rodgers said he and backup quarterback Matt Flynn recently discussed that when the Packers drafted the tight end in the third round, at least one analyst on the TV broadcast of the NFL draft said he’d rated Richard Rodgers a sixth-round prospect.
“Which is pretty laughable when you watch the talent he’s got and the ability, especially some of the plays he made today,” Aaron Rodgers said. “Again, it’s helmet and shorts, but you have to be excited about his body type and the hands. He’s made some incredible catches, makes it look easy. I think he’s going to push for some playing time if he can transfer what he’s done in the spring now to the fall and have the potential to be an impact player.”
The real measure of Richard Rodgers’ play will begin in training camp when the team is practicing in pads and the tight ends have to block as well as run pass routes. But the Packers are looking for help in their pass game after losing receivers Greg Jennings and James Jones in free agency over the last year, along with the seemingly likely loss of tight end Jermichael Finley because of neck surgery, and drafted Rodgers and second-round receiver Davante Adams to replenish their pass-catching talent.
Richard Rodgers ran the 40 in only 4.88 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and a reported 4.82 seconds at his college Pro Day at California, so his speed is average for his position. Last season he dropped weight and played more of a receiver position than tight end. This year he put the weight back on -- he was 6-4 and 257 at the combine -- and the Packers like his hands and overall athleticism.
“Big-time catch today,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I just think he’s a natural in space. I’m excited to see him when we get into the in-line work into training camp, but as far as all of the movement, playing in space, picking up the scheme, I think Richard’s off to a very good start.”