The Jets recently announced a series of futures signings and we've been conducting research and looking at game footage to review their strengths and weaknesses. We continue today with a look at defensive back Kacy Rodgers II.
The 25-year old Rodgers is listed at 6'2" and 220 pounds and is the son of Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. After going undrafted out of Miami in 2014, Rodgers failed to make it onto an NFL roster. However, he has been playing for the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders for the past two years.
Rodgers was a role player during his first two seasons at Miami, recording just six tackles in 13 games in a mostly special teams role. However, his role increased over his last two years, as he made 14 starts at safety.
After having a career-high 54 tackles in his junior year, Rodgers' production dropped off as a senior, but he did record his first sack and interception.
After going undrafted, Rodgers was invited to Chiefs rookie camp in 2014 but was unsigned. He then spent the 2015 season on the Edmonton Eskimos practice roster in the CFL.
In 2016, he made it onto the Roughriders roster and played 10 games, during which he racked up 32 tackles, seven passes defensed, a sack and a forced fumble. Then in 2017, he played 15 games, making 42 tackles with two forced fumbles and an interception. He also added 12 more tackles in two postseason games.
Saskatchewan released Rodgers from his contract last week so he could sign with the Jets.
Let's take a closer look at what Rodgers brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study and divided into categories.
Rodgers has apparently bulked up a bit since his college career and now has good size for a safety or could even be big enough to convert into a coverage linebacker role.
At his pro day, Rodgers had some good numbers with a 4.50 40-yard dash and 26 bench press reps. However, his explosiveness and agility numbers were below average.
In Canada, Rodgers played a varied role, matching up with receivers both on the outside and in the slot, as well as sometimes playing in the box.
Rodgers seemed to hold up quite well in coverage with the Roughriders, although his coverage skills still need some refinement.
When challenged, Rodgers did give up some plays, including these two long plays where he got beaten off the line and didn't have time to get his head turned around.
Rodgers was also too far off his man on a few plays, but closes fast on shorter passes.
Rodgers lined up at the line of scrimmage in press position a few times, but didn't seem to jam his man at the line much. That's harder to do in Canada because of the slightly different rules - receivers can get a running start and you have to be a yard off the line.
In coverage, Rodgers is regarded as physical. In his first game he had a costly illegal contact penalty.
Rodgers broke up seven passes in 2016 but wasn't able to intercept a pass. His hands let him down a few times, including in one game where his near interception ended up in the receivers hands for a touchdown.
In his second season, he finally got an interception which he returned for a touchdown. However, he was somewhat fortunate on the play as the receiver slipped:
Rodgers made some contributions in run defense, although he was sometimes late to get off his block on the outside.
On this play, Rodgers assisted on a stuff in the backfield to force a turnover:
Rodgers has shown a bit of a knack for forcing fumbles, as you can see on this play:
He closes well on the ball carrier here to make a similar play in the open field. However, you can see in each instance that he didn't wrap the ball carrier up and it would have been a missed tackle each time if the ball didn't come loose:
On this play, he overpursues to the inside and allows the receiver to break contain for extra yardage down the sideline:
Rodgers doesn't blitz very often but did have one sack in 2016. He also had this sack for Miami in 2013, which also led to a forced fumble:
Rodgers played on coverage units with the Hurricanes but the only special teams role he had in Canada was as a vice. He wasn't always able to stay on his block and was beaten a few times including on this play, on which he was called for an illegal block in the back and there was a fumble:
He'll need to impress on special teams to have a realistic chance of a role with the Jets next year.
One of the most impressive aspects of Rodgers' film is that he seems to be quick to diagnose plays and reacts well. On this play, his tackle just shy of the marker forced a turnover:
As a coach's son, Rodgers obviously has a serious approach to the game and good knowledge. At Miami, he won the team's Respect Award in 2013.
On the field he seems to be a high energy player and wasn't involved in any off-field controversies.
Rodgers did miss some games in college and in Canada, but doesn't seem to have had any serious injuries.
Although Rodgers played some cornerback in college, he is probably better suited to a safety role or even a hybrid safety role at the NFL level. It's likely he'll be a project either way.
Bring aboard a coach's son is always going to give rise to skepticism but it's not unprecedented in Jets history. Defensive back D'Anton Lynn - the son of former Jets running back coach and current Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn - signed for the Jets in 2012 and remained with the team until final cuts.
Lynn, now 28, never signed for another team but coached with his father in Buffalo and was recently added to Lynn's staff in L.A. Could Rodgers' inclusion be with a view to a future coaching role in mind? Giving him the experience of being on an NFL roster could be useful in that regard, while providing the Jets with a player they know is going to work hard and be on his best behavior.
Perhaps that speculation is doing Rodgers a disservice and the team feels he has the potential to be a future contributor. He seems smart and has some talent and good measurables. He's certainly learned some things and improved his game while in Canada, but whether that means he has a realistic shot at an NFL future remains to be seen.