|Photo: Florida Football Insiders
The Vikings needed to add more weapons to their offense, specifically in the passing game. Daniel House likes the potential Rodney Adams brings to the wide receiver room.
Updated: May 11, 2016 4:40 p.m.
By: Daniel House
video .gifs used courtesy of Draft Breakdown
By: Daniel House
The Vikings needed to add more weapons to their offense, specifically in the passing game. The team invested money into the offensive line in free agency and needed to draft several capable playmakers in the passing game. South Florida wide receiver Rodney Adams not only provides an athletic pass catcher, but a capable kick returner to the Vikings' roster. Adams has impressive length and speed, but has a very thin frame. He missed time in each of the last three seasons with lower leg injuries and has been bitten by the injury bug. Nonetheless, he is very smooth off the line of scrimmage to get separation from the defensive back. He does a fantastic job of getting this separation by his start off the line of scrimmage, combined with his speed.
When Adams has the ball in his hands, he has an ability to create plays by breaking tackles and using a crafty spin move to his advantage. Adams needs more work as a route runner, but reportedly displayed growth in this area during rookie camp last weekend. At South Florida, he was asked to be a playmaker out in space and often ran out of a jet-sweep look in their system. He was a hybrid player and did things as a receiver and running back. However, he has shown some ability to run routes effectively in the small sample size of tape we have.
In the clip below vs. Central Florida, Adams put a double move on the defensive back and rounded off his route to haul in the pass below the safety/cornerback help. Adams has the tendency to round off his routes too much and it will be something he must improve. Nonetheless, he is crafty with routes when he uses his quick feet and smooth body control to get initial separation. He won't go up to get balls because he doesn't have a strong vertical. He needs to get the ball in space or have substantial separation in the secondary.
I saw Adams have trouble securing the ball across the middle in numerous situations and he needs to get the ball into his frame high and tight. In addition, he has a tendency to catch the ball with his body and needs to extend and look the ball into his frame. It was something that crept into his tape on a few occasions. I like his ability to create vertical separation, but the play-making ability he can bring when you get him in space is equally impressive.
He has shown incredible ability to create after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, Adams averaged 9.8 yards after the catch in 2016, ranking second in the nation among wide receivers with at least 50 receptions. When Adams runs a wide receiver screen, he has the chance to make a dynamic play. With wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and new addition Michael Floyd being strong run blockers, these type of plays will be extra effective. Getting players out in space with two quality run blocking wide receivers will be an advantage for players like Rodney Adams and Dalvin Cook, who are fantastic when they get to the edge. Adams won't be the wide receiver run blocking because he lacks the strength. He'll be the player the team gets the ball to in an effort to create a dynamic play.
In the play below, Adams runs a wide receiver screen and creates after the catch by breaking one tackle and showing the nifty spin move he flashed throughout his college career. He can be used similar to Cordarrelle Patterson, but already appears to have better route running at this stage of his career than Patterson did. Adams needs to learn how to set defensive backs up, while finding a remedy to rounding off his routes. In addition, he must sharpen the breaks of his routes. This problem can be solved by 1-on-1 work with defensive backs during training camp.
As I said earlier, Adams could be used in different packages to garner his skill-set. South Florida often ran jet-sweeps and reverses to Adams, who created plays when he was handed the ball out of the backfield. The Vikings can line him up in the slot, in the backfield, or the outside. Adams has shown an ability to create plays in a variety of spots across the field. He provides versatility in the Vikings' offense and can become even more of a threat if his route running can take the next step. In several clips posted on the team website, Adams was very impressive in this respect during rookie camp. People I talked with also echoed the same message regarding Adams.
Finally, Adams averaged 24.3 yards per kick return in his final year at South Florida and will compete to fill the vacant starting kick returner spot. He has excellent speed and vision to read his blockers in the return game. Adams had a kick return touchdown against Navy and flashed his sharp cuts and fluidity to make moves in space. When he gets out in space, his acceleration makes it difficult for tacklers to get an angle to wrap him up. He has the chance to be a very talented kick returner because of his skill-set and awareness as a return man.
I'm particularly intrigued to see Rodney Adams progress throughout training camp. I think he has a very high ceiling and might be a steal because of his limited tape during college. If he can become more polished as a route runner, he will be even more of a dynamic weapon than he already is.
However, it will be all about staying healthy and adding some bulk to his frame to prevent injuries from happening on a consistent basis.