Rodger’s 4-year NFL journey speaks volumes about both the league’s philosophical approach to positions as wells their inevitable clash with reality.
Everyone loves athletic lineman deep in the draft. Few position groups provide the same kind of return on upside developmental projects than raw tackles with quick feet. Fewer teams have the long term stability and roster space to carry and develop a tackle who needs reps and technical refinement to fully maximize his potential if he can’t produce early.
Jake Rodgers profile
So it goes for Rodgers, an Eastern Washington product drafted with the 225th pick of the 2015 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Kyle Shanahan probably saw the former high school tight end with good movement skills and Thomas Dimitroff spent a lottery ticket on upside. Rodgers was cut before the regular season began.
After he left Atlanta, Rodgers wore 8 different uniforms before signing with the Denver Broncos in April. It isn’t a coincidence the three time Pittsburgh Steeler signed within months of Mike Munchak’s hire as Vic Fangio’s new offensive line coach.
- Scheme fit.
- Time & familiary with Munchak.
- Quick feet.
- Very good height/weight.
Rodgers has stuck around the NFL because he shows enough promise athletically to keep teams intrigued enough to continue spending developmental time on him. He has quick feet at a size that’s hard to come by. He’s also worked in both the Shanahan system and under Mike Munchak which should help him to pick up the Rich Scangarello offense.
- Below average arm length.
- Below average strength.
The biggest questions surrounding Rodgers are his hand punch, timing, and his pass sets. Because his arms are shorter than ideal, he needs to maximize the length he does have to maintain control of his assignments. He also needs to keep his feet driving to make the most of his size as a run blocker, and to stay in front of pass rushers.
Jake Rodgers’ roster status with the Broncos
Way back when I did my Way-Too-Early Final 53, I gave Rodgers the nod and said this:
I’m pretty confident in Rodgers’ chances to stick to the roster. Since coming into the league in 2015, he’s been a member of the Falcons, Giants, Panthers, Texans, Steelers, and Ravens in some capacity or another. Munchak is well aware of what he can do, as he spent a big part of 2017 on the Steelers practice squad. Back in college, he originally signed with Washington State as a tight end before moving inside. Word coming out was that he needed to add strength to stick in the league. The Broncos are probably his last best shot, and I think Munchak holds onto him as depth behind Bolles.
There’s a reason I called it my “way too early” list, because that confidence is a bit shakier now. Munchak must like something because he keeps bringing Rodgers in, but something isn’t clicking because each time he’s on, then off the practice squad faster than a light switch.
At this point, Rodgers is 27 years old. He isn’t the young, toolsy project he was in 2015. If Denver’s looking for developmental tackles, they have guys like John Leglue and Quinn Bailey who bring a lot of the same promise with more years left before they hit their athletic prime.
The one thing helping Rodgers cause is how shallow the Broncos tackle depth is behind Bolles: there isn’t another player on the roster I’d feel comfortable protecting Flacco’s backside, and only few that make a ton of sense on either edge in regular season action.
If Bolles or Ja’Wuan James go down, it currently looks like Elijah Wilkinson or Dalton Risner would step in on the right side with James sliding over. Beyond James, only Chaz Green (3 games) and Don Barclay (1 game) bring any regular season experience on the blindside into camp.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.