BUFFALO, N.Y. — Passed over in the NFL draft, Tennessee Tech receiver Da’Rick Rogers can finally begin putting his troubled college career behind him after agreeing to sign with the Buffalo Bills.
Rogers’ agent Joby Branion, on Sunday, confirmed his client agreed to terms with the Bills. The player announced the news a day earlier by writing, "I’m a Buffalo Bill," on his Twitter account.
He becomes the latest play-making addition to what is becoming a young, retooled offence under rookie head coach Doug Marrone.
The Bills opened the draft by selecting Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel with the 16th pick. They then selected two more receivers: Southern California’s Robert Woods (41st overall) and Texas speedster Marquise Goodwin (78th).
Aside from Rogers, the Bills also reached deals with two more undrafted rookie free agents. Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel and Eastern Washington receiver Brandon Kaufman agreed to sign with Buffalo, the players’ agent, Cameron Foster, said.
The Bills have a policy of not announcing moves until a player is signed.
Rogers is regarded as an intriguing addition. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, he had been projected to be an early to mid-round pick, and had been ranked 11th among draft-eligible receivers by NFL.com.
His stock, however, dropped because of off-the-field issues during his first two seasons at Tennessee.
In August, Rogers transferred to Tennessee Tech shortly after being suspended indefinitely by the Volunteers for violating team rules. Rogers said multiple failed drug tests prompted his move to the Football Championship Subdivision.
Rogers also had a troubled start to his college career. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest before his freshman season.
A high school star from Calhoun, Ga., Rogers did make an impact when given the opportunity to play. A first-time starter as a sophomore, Rogers led the Volunteers with 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
Last year, Rogers had 893 yards receiving and tied a Tennessee Tech single-season record with 10 touchdown catches.
An NFL pre-draft scouting report praised Rogers for being "a physical specimen with strong hands, who overpowered defenders." But it also noted his "off-field maturity," and knocked him for not being "a very instinctual receiver."
Rogers has not shied from discussing his past. Earlier this month, he described his departure from Tennessee as being both "a wake-up call," and something that "humbled" him.
It was also a message he delivered to NFL teams during the scouting process.
"I go in and tell them I’m not here to defend that bio," Rogers said. "Everything you have, that’s true. That’s the real deal. I’m willing to change that. Here’s what I’ve done."
The Bills were interested in Rogers, who was one of 30 draft-eligible players Buffalo invited to visit the team’s facility and meet with coaches this month.
"He had that ding at Tennessee, as we all know," Bills director of college scouting Chuck Cook said, referring to Rogers two weeks ago. "We’ve been tracking him and doing our due diligence with his intangibles, and we’ve come to a decision and we’ll stack him on the board the way he fits in our wide receiver group."
The Bills showed in the draft that they were willing to take a risk on adding players who ran into trouble at college.
With their second of two second-round picks, they selected Oregon linebacker Kristian ‘Kiko’ Alonso, who was suspended for the entire 2010 season due to separate alcohol-related offences.
In the fourth round, Buffalo drafted Nevada safety Michael ‘Duke’ Williams, who was arrested for alcohol and driving-related offences. He was also involved in a fight that sent a teammate to the hospital.
General manager Buddy Nix defended selecting the two players.
"We think they’re OK," Nix said. "We think we can handle whatever problems; either they’ve handled them before now or we can when they get here, so that’s the answer."
Tuel’s addition did not come as a surprise after Nix said the Bills had seriously considered taking a second quarterback in the draft. Listed at 6-2 and 221 pounds, Tuel finished with 5,936 yards passing, 33 touchdowns and 25 interceptions in starting 26 of 31 games.
Buffalo is scheduled to hold a three-day rookie minicamp that starts May 10.