The first assistant coach Brad Childress hired when he took the Vikings’ head coaching job over a year ago was defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. The second coach he hired was quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers.
“We will have a staff of great teachers,” Childress said at the time. “Kevin is one of those great teachers. He did a great job of mentoring Donovan [McNabb] at Syracuse. He has experience as a coordinator and most recently had a big part in Virginia Tech's success. We're happy to have him.”
His latest project is second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson with the Vikings. Whatever success Jackson has in making the transition from Alabama State to the NFL will be in large part due to the mentoring of Rogers.
Jackson is on record as saying he “loves being coached by Childress and Rogers.”
Jackson has also caught the eye of the new defensive coordinator, not so much for his impressive physical tools, but for his mental grasp of the offense and his ability to read coverages and spread the ball around. Those characteristics are a reflection of the coaching he has received under Rogers. Jackson and Rogers have a very healthy working relationship.
Rogers was an assistant coach for 28 years at the college level, working with McNabb during four of his eight seasons at Syracuse. While McNabb is the player he is most recognized for developing, he’s not the only one.
Rogers has coached an impressive list of players and has coached alongside some of the legends of the game, including Woody Hayes, Paul Pasqualoni and Frank Beamer while coaching the likes of McNabb, Marvin Harrison and Napolean McCallum during his career.
At Virginia Tech, he developed quarterbacks Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick into All-ACC players who have made it to the tryout level in the NFL. He did the same with Jarious Jackson at Notre Dame, who had a stint with the Denver Broncos. Besides McNabb, Rogers helped groom future NFL stars Marvin Harrison, Qadry Ismail and Rob Konrad in his tenure at Syracuse.
Harrison enters his 12th season in the NFL having caught over 1,000 passes for nearly 14,000 yards and 122 touchdowns, en route to what figures to be a Hall of Fame career.
During Rogers’ eight seasons at Syracuse, the Orangemen played in six bowl games and had a 6-2 mark. Rogers joined the team in 1991 as quarterbacks coach on Pasqualoni's staff. He was named assistant head coach in 1995, served as recruiting coordinator from 1995-97 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1997. Prior to that, he helped develop running back Napoleon McCallum on to a career in the NFL while at Navy (1983-90).
Rogers was also a highly underrated recruiter at the college level, which translates into a tremendous asset during the NFL draft and the overall personnel evaluation process.
Case in point: Seventh-round draft pick Tyler Thigpen from small-school Coastal Carolina.
“Our scouts did a good job going to Coastal Carolina and writing up Thigpen,” Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman said. “We sent Kevin Rogers, our quarterbacks coach, to Coastal Carolina, and he came back thoroughly impressed with (Thigpen) after spending a day with him and having him do all the throws we needed him to do.
“Then we brought him up here on one of the pre-draft visits and spent a day with him, going through board work and getting to know him better. When you get to the seventh round, you stay true to your board, and we had him up there a little bit just because of his potential and how he fits what we're looking for from a quarterback.”
Rogers’ value to the organization was exhibited back in January, when he was being strongly recruited by new University of Miami coach Randy Shannon for their offensive coordinator job. But according to published reports at the time, the Vikings stepped up and gave Rogers a pay increase to stay with the team.
His presence will be essential in the career progression of Jackson, as well as a younger, developmental-type prospect like Thigpen.