FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons continued their theme of moving up in the draft to select a player on Saturday.
They traded away their fifth round pick (158th overall) and one of their seventh round picks (229) to move up 13 spots to select Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
Here’s the book on Rodgers:
FALCONS PICK: 5th round, 145 overall (18th running back selected)
Name: Jacquizz Rodgers
Size: 5-6, 198
College: Oregon State
His production: He rushed for 8,245 yards and 136 touchdowns over his storied high school career in Richmond, Texas. Rodgers finished his career ranked second all-time in Texas high school history with 41 100-yard rushing games. He also had 21 200-yard games. He splashed onto the national scene when he helped to power the Beavers over Southern California, 27-21, when they were ranked No. 1 in the nation. He ran the ball 37 times for 186 yards and scored two touchdowns in the breakout game. He started 35 of 36 games for the Beavers. He gained 3,877 yards and scored 46 touchdowns. He also caught 151 passes for 1,052 yards and five touchdowns. He is just one of eight players in Pac-10 history with 1,000 yards rushing in three seasons.
The skinny: He was nicknamed “Mr. Touchdown” in high school. He landed at Oregon State in part because they had taken his brother, James, a wide receiver, the previous year. He was also recruited by Arizona, Baylor, Houston, Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Southern Methodist. He has a daughter, Channing. He ran a slow 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. But he is considered to be more quick, than fast. He’s a proven tough and durable runner.
INTERVIEW WITH JACQUIZZ RODGERS TODAY
ON BEING PICKED BY THE FALCONS: “It’s the best feeling in life … finally a dream come true. Something you’ve been working for your whole life and actually getting a chance to seize the moment and be a part of a good team is a blessing.”
ON THE USC GAME: “That was the biggest highlight of my career, knocking off No. 1 USC. It was my freshman year, just being able to contribute to a win like that was good. Being part of Oregon State’s offense, a pro-style offense, having a coach like Coach (Mike) Riley put the faith in me to carry the ball a lot and being a featured guy in his offense (was awesome).”
ON RUNNING BETWEEN THE TACKLES: “It’s all about confidence. I run strong. If they look at my size they might under estimate me. After the game, I bet they have a different opinion about me.”
ON PICKING UP THE BLITZ: “That was something that we had to do. I’m willing to stick my nose in there and block linebackers. . . I remember watching Warrick Dunn when I was a child.”
ON NOT FUMBLING: “Ball security is something that we worked on every day in practice. Not putting the ball on the ground is a big thing. My coaches in college always focused on ball security and blocking. That was a big thing. They always said if you made it to this point they already knew you were a good runner, so protect the ball and protect the quarterback.” (He officially had one fumble on a lateraled pass.)
ON HIS SIZE AND PROVING PEOPLE WRONG: “That’s the main thing. Most people question my size. It’s something that I can’t change.”
ON HIS PASS CATCHING SKILLS: “Being shorter than most guys, being able to catch out of the backfield and beat linebackers one-on-one and in open space, I think it helps me out a lot.”
ON THE LOCKOUT: “I’m just working out and staying in shape. Hopefully, the lockout will be over soon.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog