Colts WR Da'Rick Rogers' breakout game was no aberration

12/9/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

In most weeks of the NFL season, a few unlikely players will put together some great stat lines, only to cool off and fail to maintain their great play in future games. I think we all remember Kevin Ogletree's "breakout" game in 2012, when he lit up the New York Giants on national TV for eight catches, 114 yards, and two touchdowns. The one-hit wonder went on to top 28 yards in just two of his final 15 games with the Dallas Cowboys last season. The Cowboys let him walk as a free agent, and he was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers less than a month into the 2013 campaign.

If you would prefer an example from this season, look no further than Jared Cook and Jerome Simpson, who managed 141 and 140 receiving yards in Week 1, respectively. In a combined 24 games since opening weekend, Cook and Simpson have combined for a whopping three games with 55+ receiving yards. These kind of aberrational outbursts are common in the NFL, and in many situations, fans must not get too excited about a player after just one good performance.

Blog Photo - WR Da'Rick Rogers could be a great find for the ColtsIndianapolis Colts wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers is an undrafted rookie who had never had an NFL pass thrown his way entering Week 14. Rogers managed a fantastic 6/107/2 line in the Colts' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but history will tell you that those numbers are unlikely to continue. Plenty of undrafted players and late-round draft picks have had great games, but not many have had great careers. Rogers, however, is not your typical undrafted free agent.

Coming out of Calhoun High School in Georgia, Rogers committed to the University of Tennessee as the 30th ranked recruit in the nation, according to ESPN. Rogers enjoyed success almost immediately, bursting onto the national scene as a sophomore - he racked up 67 catches (led SEC), 1,040 yards (second in SEC), and nine touchdowns (second in SEC). At just 20 years of age, Rogers dominated what was arguably the best conference in college football, posting better numbers than established pros Alshon Jeffery and Rueben Randle.

Rogers' collegiate career took an unfortunate turn, however, when he failed three drug tests and was subsequently suspended indefinitely from Tennessee. Rogers decided to transfer to Tennessee Tech, where he would continue his path to the NFL while battling inferior competition. He posted 61 catches for 893 yards and ten touchdowns across ten career games at Tennessee Tech, then declared for the NFL Draft.

A very talented player with well-documented off-field issues, it was extremely tough to predict where Rogers would go on draft day. The red flags were ultimately too much for any team to spend a draft pick on him, as he went undrafted. The Buffalo Bills signed Rogers as a free agent, but he would reportedly sulk when things didn't go his way, and even taunted a teammate after a touchdown catch in practice - the Bills let him go at final cuts. After going unclaimed on waivers, the Colts eventually signed Rogers to their practice squad. With the help of hard work (as well as an injury to Reggie Wayne), Rogers finally cracked into the receiver rotation, leading to his monster Week 14 performance.

Before the 2013 NFL Draft, I rated Rogers as the fourth best player at his position, behind only Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson, and DeAndre Hopkins. Here is some of what I had to say about him back in March of 2013:
"Rogers is a big, physical prospect who outmuscles cornerbacks to make plays on the ball with strong hands. He can go over the middle to make a play in traffic, or fight with a defender on the outside for a jump ball. He lacks elite speed, but is quick after the catch with the ability to pick up extra yards."
After seeing what he did on Sunday, I stand by those words. This is your classic, all-to-typical case of an extremely talented wide receiver who holds himself back with diva-type behavior. If Rogers can keep his head on straight, he could have plenty more games like this, and as far as I know, he has not been a problem off the field in Indy, nor in the Colts' locker room.

As I said before, plenty of undrafted players have huge games then fall off the face of the earth, but Rogers is not your typical undrafted player. Many of us saw a performance like this coming, but just didn't know when or with whom it would happen. Fortunately, Rogers has finally been able to show the NFL what he can do at the highest level of the game, and with good leadership and smart decisions, this could be just the first of many hundred-yard games from this rookie pass catcher.
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