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Scouting Jets wide receiver Rodney Adams

NFL: AUG 14 Preseason - Dolphins at Bears Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Jets recently signed wide receiver Rodney Adams to a futures deal. Today we break him down in detail.

The 27-year old Adams is listed at 6’1” and 189 pounds and was a fifth round pick out of USF in 2017. He has only played in two NFL games, having retired briefly a few years ago. However, he made an impression in preseason this year.

Background

Adams was a three-star prospect in high school and originally enrolled at Toledo, where he caught two passes in his freshman year. However, after his mother passed away in a car accident, he was granted a hardship exemption and allowed to transfer to USF without needing to sit out for a year.

In his first season at USF, he caught 23 passes, including two touchdowns. He then stepped it up over his last two years, as he was twice named as a second team all-American Conference selection, once as a kick returner and once as a receiver. He set the team record for receptions in a season with 67 and for receiving yards with 822. He also scored 10 total touchdowns in both his junior and senior years.

Having attended the scouting combine, Adams was a projected late-round pick and was selected in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings.

As a rookie, Adams made some good plays in preseason but played in just one regular season game and spent half the year on the practice squad. The Vikings opted not to bring him back so he signed with the Colts in February after his rookie year, but then decided to retire in April.

After almost two years out of the league, Adams decided to unretire and the Colts brought him into training camp in 2020. They cut him in camp but the Bears brought him in and ended up retaining him all year on their practice squad.

In camp and preseason this year, Adams stepped up and initially made the Bears’ roster, although he later reverted to the practice squad. Once again, he only played in one regular season game and did not register any stats.

The Bears kept him on the practice squad all year but Jets signed Adams to a futures deal at the end of the season.

Now let’s take a look at what Adams brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

Adams entered the league with a slim frame and obviously needed to bulk up and add some strength. He posted just eight bench press reps at the combine.

He does, however, have good speed, which shows up on film. He ran a 4.44 at the combine and also had a 125” broad jump. His vertical jump was poor and his agility numbers were about average though.

Usage

Adams mostly played on the outside in his first two years with the Bulls, but then moved into more of a slot role in his final season. He also played mostly in the slot in preseason action with the Vikings in 2017, although in 2021 with the Bears, he played both on the outside and in the slot.

Deep threat

Adams showed an ability to use his speed to get behind the defense for plenty of big plays in college. He averaged almost 15 yards per catch in his college career, including 18.5 in his junior year.

On this 73-yard touchdown, he quickly got a step on Siran Neal and was able to track the ball was to haul in the underthrown pass and break away for the score.

Hands

Adams adjusts well to the ball in the air and shows an ability to go up and over a defensive back to bring the ball in, or to make diving catches on off-target passes.

While his drop rates were low throughout his college career, his hands have been pretty unreliable at the NFL level with a few catchable drops.

Routes

The book on Adams coming out of college was that he didn’t have experience of running a full route tree. At USF, he mainly ran screens, slants and go routes.

Since coming up to the NFL level, Adams has worked hard at his route running technique and looks smooth on his release and coming out of his breaks.

Yards after the catch

Adams shows some good quickness and elusiveness with the ball in his hands. He can slip out of tackles or dive for the first down marker and displays an impressive spin move.

As a sign of how dangerous he can be with the ball in his hands, he was also used regularly as a ball carrier at USF, primarily on jet sweeps. He rushed for 380 yards and seven touchdowns in his career, including five scores in his senior year. He also had a 14-yard rush on a jet sweep with the Bears in preseason.

Fumbles have been in issue with Adams, who had five in his college career and has had a few more in preseason action.

Red zone

While they didn’t all come in the red zone, Adams racked up 23 touchdowns in three years at USF and also has three touchdowns in seven preseason games at the NFL level.

His ability to get open quickly, go over a defender for a catch or run the jet sweep are all ways he could be used close to the goal line.

Blocking

Despite a lack of size and strength, Adams posted good grades as a run blocker in college according to Pro Football Focus, although scouts were not bullish on his ability to be a successful run blocker at the pro level.

He usually appears to give a good effort and did make a positive downfield block on this quarterback scramble.

Physicality

As noted, Adams doesn’t possess much natural bulk, which can affect him in terms of his ability to block, get off press coverage and compete at the catch point. However, he does display an ability to go up and over a defensive player.

In his only NFL game last season, Adams didn’t record a catch but earned a first down on a defensive holding penalty.

Special teams

Adams was a kickoff returner at USF, where he averaged 25 yards per return, including a 97-yard touchdown.

The Vikings also gave him some chances to return kicks and punt in preseason. He averaged less than 20 yards per kick return but did have this impressive punt return.

He didn’t return punts in college and his inexperience showed here as he hesitated and ended up muffing the punt.

With the Bears he saw some brief action on kick coverage, as a punt gunner and as a vice on the punt return unit but didn’t make much of an impact.

Instincts

Adams’ experience as a kick returner helps him as he displays good open field instincts as a ball carrier and he showcases an ability to leak to an open area on this play.

In his final year of college, Adams false started once but this was his only penalty that year and he hasn’t had any at the NFL level. He had six total penalties in his first two years at USF.

Attitude

The tragic death of his mother while he was at Toledo had a profound effect on Adams who had to become the legal guardian for his 16-year old brother. Adams vowed to dedicate everything he does both on and off the field to his mother.

In 2018, he was dealing with a lot of grief and decided it would be for the best to retire and take care of his family situation. However, in 2020, he says he woke up one day and suddenly felt ready to return to the game.

He’s displayed toughness and resilience to make it this far against all odds and therefore cannot be counted out heading into 2022 with the Jets.

Injuries

Although he missed two years due to his retirement, Adams hasn’t had any injury issues at the NFL level. He did miss two games with an ankle injury in his sophomore year at USF.

Scheme fit

Adams’ ability to produce out of the slot and make things happen with the ball in his hands could make the Jets’ system well suited to him. There are some similarities between the Jets’ current offense and that of the Vikings where he began his career.

He was briefly a teammate of pending restricted free agent kicker Eddy Piniero while in Chicago.

Conclusions

Adams is, of course, a big long shot to make the Jets’ roster, but the team had so many injuries in 2021 that almost everyone who was with the team in training camp got an opportunity sooner or later.

He obviously has some talent although he’s still a bit of an unknown quantity having missed those two years. Nevertheless he has the attitude and determination that could give him a chance to push for time if he can prove he’s worked to improve his strength, route running and the reliability of his hands.