Spotlight - WR Charles Rogers, Detroit Lions
Posted 8/25 by Jason Wood and Maurile Tremblay,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
For three straight seasons, the Detroit Lions have used their top 10 overall selection in the NFL draft on a wide receiver. I'm fairly sure that has never happened before in league history (if someone knows otherwise, I would greatly appreciate an email for curiosity sake). While I applaud GM Matt Millen's decision to draft the "best player available", it certainly doesn't make my job of fantasy prognostication any easier.
Right after the draft, the questions were abundant. Did the selection of Mike Williams signal yet another injury concern for Charles Rogers? (i.e., did the Lions know something we didn't?) Would Williams displace Rogers in the starting lineup? Would Mooch use a lot of 3-WR sets and thus, deflate the fantasy value of Roy, Charles AND Mike?
Four months later, and a training camp in the bag, we seem to have a bit clearer picture of the situation.
Mike Williams, for all his obvious talent (size, productivity at USC, red zone effectiveness), the year he spent away from organized football appears to have set him back in terms of his fitness and the precision required of an NFL caliber playmaker. In fact, at press time, Williams was running behind veteran Kevin Johnson and sat 4th on the depth chart.
Which leaves Charles Rogers and Roy Williams as the starters, just as was intended LAST YEAR.
But a year ago, Charles Rogers broke his collarbone...AGAIN. Two years in the league, two years lost to what the doctors I've spoken to say was little more than a "fluke." Make no mistake here folks, Rogers' injuries may have robbed him of the better part of two seasons, but NOTHING about them suggests he shouldn't be fully productive and healthy the rest of his career. Unless he's got "brittle bone disease" like Samuel Jackson in Unbreakable, Rogers really shouldn't have his past maladies held against him. And that's where the opportunity arises.
While I'm not going to deny the obvious talents of Roy Williams, I am going to challenge the very popular notion that he's DEFINITELY going to have the more productive season. People have short memories, but Rogers WAS Roy Williams the year before. 6'2", 202 pounds, blazing speed, great hands, precise route running, unstoppable scoring machine in a top collegiate conference...he was the 2ND OVERALL PICK. I don't see how he lost ANY of those attributes. Not a one. Yet, because of his broken collarbones, and Roy Williams emergence last year as a rookie (54-817-8), Rogers is being drafted 34th among WRs according to Antsports. For a guy that should, at a minimum, give you 50 catches, 700 yards and 5 TDs...but could easily go over 1,000 yards with 70 catches based on talent alone, that's a great risk/reward.
- Rogers was the 2nd overall pick, and has the complete package any NFL GM would want in a lead receiver
- His broken collarbones have driven his ADP down, yet they aren't the kinds of chronic injuries that should hamper his productivity long term
- With Jeff Garcia in place to backup Joey Harrington, the Lions passing game should be relatively stable
- Kevin Jones should keep defenses honest, and make play action passing downfield a real option in Mooch's playbook
- Rogers may have missed his chance to be the Lions go-to receiver, as Roy Williams did nothing to dissuade people from thinking he's up to the task as a rookie
- Mike Williams may not be a threat at the start of the season, but if he rounds into game shape, could easily steal catches from Rogers or Roy by mid season
- Joey Harrington doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, and Jeff Garcia, despite going to 3 Pro Bowls in this system, has looked erratic during the preseason
The more I analyze the Detroit Lions situation, the more Charles Rogers appeals to me as a backup WR option. It seems everyone is ready to anoint the Lions as the breakthrough offense of 2005, yet those passes and TDs have to go somewhere. I wouldn't argue with anyone who predicts Roy Williams will have the best year of the group, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Rogers and Williams' seasons end up looking a lot alike.
Maurile Tremblay's Thoughts
Charles Rogers has as much athletic potential as any WR this side of Randy Moss, but his career has been limited by two broken collarbone injuries in consecutive years. He played in five games as a rookie two seasons ago, and in just three plays last year before re-injuring the same collarbone that cut his rookie season short.
When he has been on the field, however, Rogers has shown big-play ability and a nose for the endzone. As a rookie, he scored three touchdowns in five games. He has blazing speed, outstanding leaping ability, and excellent hands. He is an elusive runner after the catch, and is a threat to take it to the house from anywhere on the field due to his speed.
But because his play has been so limited, we still donít really know what weíre getting when we draft Charles Rogers. His physical skills resemble those of David Terrell, Donte Stallworth, and Andre Johnson Ė all of whom have shown the ability to score touchdowns in limited opportunities the way Rogers has. (Terrell, remember, scored four TDs in just 34 receptions as a rookie, while Stallworth scored eight TDs in 42 receptions his rookie year.) So based on those comparisons, Charles could be a stinker, a stud, or anywhere in between. Five games as a rookie just donít give us a lot to go on.
In addition to his limited history, we have the reason why his history is limited: injuries. A broken collarbone isnít the sort of injury that should plague a player for his entire career. Like any broken bone, it should heal and Rogers should be over it. But the fact that it happened twice in two years is cause for concern. Does Rogers have generally weak bones that will be susceptible to injury throughout his career? Probably not Ė itís probably just coincidence Ė but itís possible.
Another uncertainty is Rogersí role in the Lionsí offense. He is projected to be the #2 WR opposite Roy Williams. But itís not far-fetched to think he could develop into the #1 WR: he has the physical talent for it. Itís also not far-fetched to think he could eventually slide into the #3 role behind Mike Williams, who has plenty of physical talent in his own right.
- Outstanding speed and athleticism, along with the hands to make the spectacular catch.
- Appears to be fully healed coming into the 2005 season.
- Has enough weapons around him that he will not draw much double coverage.
- Coming off a season-ending injury for the second year in a row, so durability is a major concern.
- Lacks experience, and is not a polished route-runner.
- Will have to share the ball with plenty of other talented players in the Lionsí offense, so he may not get enough looks to be a consistent fantasy producer.
Because of Roy Williamsí outstanding physical skills but limited experience and track record, you might consider him a classic boom-or-bust player. Actually, Iíd consider him a boom-or-bust-or-anything-in-between player. Itís very hard to do projections for the Lions as a whole this year. Will they rely mostly on Kevin Jones and the running game, or will Joey Harrington air the ball out a bit more this year? If Harrington does put the ball in the air more, will he have better success than he did over the past three years? Is Roy Williams the stud he appears to be? Will Charles Rogers live up to his vast potential? Where does Mike Williams fit into all of this? Because of all these uncertainties, Charles Rogers is a gamble Ė but one that could pay off in a big way. As an eighth- or ninth-round pick in a twelve-team league, his upside potential is too juicy to ignore.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
Immense talent for the short amount of time we have seen of it. Detroit fed him the ball and he made plays. Enough so that two years later, we are still waiting, and wanting, for more. Charles is going to the be the WR2 on a WC team. That alone should be enough to put him down as a sleeper. With his ADP showing concerns about injury and enough balls, he could be taken very cheap this year. His questions are can he play 16 games? As the WR2, will he have enough targets this year? Can he hold off BMW and keep the WR2 slot?
I just don't have confidence in Harrington. It's such a shame with all this talent at WR too.
I think Rogers will stay healthy this year. And if that's the case, he will end up scoring the same number of TDs as Roy with around 9. I think Roy will edge him in receptions and yards. BMW won't be a huge factor unless one of the other two get injured.
Charles Rogers Projections
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