INDIANAPOLIS -- At 6-feet-2 and 203 pounds with excellent leaping ability and ball skills, Da'Rick Rogers is arguably the most physically gifted wide receiver in the 2013 NFL Draft. He's often compared to Atlanta Falcons star wideout Julio Jones for his combination of size, strength and explosiveness.
However, Rogers entered the scouting combine as the No. 11-rated wide receiver in this year's class by NFLDraftScout.com. The first-round talent is trying to recoup his draft stock that plummeted after three failed drug tests got him booted from the Tennessee football program last summer.
Rogers landed at Tennessee Tech, where he predictably dominated the lower level of competition, hauling in 61 passes for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns. Still, lighting up FCS defenses hardly erased the stigma created by his troubles in Knoxville.
"I take full responsibility," Rogers said of his exit from the Vols' program. "It was immaturity. I play with an edge, and I needed to learn how to handle that edge off the field as well."
Rogers faced a constant onslaught of questions about his past and didn't offer up a single excuse. While all prospects are coached-up by their agents for the combine sessions with the media and team interviews - Arizona head coach Bruce Arians termed them "scripted" - there was an air of sincerity to Rogers. He spoke with humilty and didn't dodge a single difficult question.
Rogers knows he damaged his own reputation, cost himself draft position and money, and doesn't place the blame on anyone else. And he doesn't expect anyone to simply forgive his transgressions and draft him solely on his physical skills.
"I did it to myself. You have to accept responsibility for what you did and move forward," said Rogers, who added that he passed 10 drug tests while at Tennessee Tech. "All I can do is come in, work hard and get my foot in the door."
Rogers believes he's among the most physically gifted wide receivers in this draft and expects to run "in the low 4.4s" in the 40-yard dash this weekend.
"I'm gonna be fast. Let me put it like that," he said.