By PFC Lead Draft Writer Jason Davis
Much of the talk about Tennessee heading into the NFL Draft was of their quarterback Tyler Bray. While Bray will garner some of that talk because of his position, people need to focus on his receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson. He made people take notice at the NFL Combine. Patterson separated himself from the rest of the receiving group with his performance in Indianapolis.
Patterson is one of the fastest players on the field and can be a home-run threat on any play. His elusiveness in the open field rivals the best of any receiver in the last few years. That makes it extremely difficult to bring him down in the open field and he can extend plays better than almost anyone in college football. It helps that he has great vision while being in the open field which helps him see holes in the defense and breaks big plays down the field.
Patterson isn’t the best pass catcher in the wide receiver class. He is more of a chest chester than a hands catcher. This can be a major problem in the NFL. In addition, Patterson seems to focus on making a big play up the field instead of keeping his eyes and focus on the ball. Another issue that will hurt Patterson is his size because he has problems shaking off press coverage. It can result in Patterson getting bumped off his route and becoming insignificant on certain plays.
He has good size at 6’2″ 216 pounds, especially for someone who can run a 4.42 40-yard dash. That top end speed will make it very easy for Patterson to separate from defenders at the next level. Patterson did very well at the Combine registering at 37″ vertical jump but didn’t measure out well with only 9″ hands. He also doesn’t have long arms either as he measured in at 31 3/4 inches.
This is one area that is of real concern for Patterson. Although he is a tall wide receiver, he doesn’t have much strength to fight off of press coverage. His top end speed can help him make up for the lack of strength, but its something to keep an eye on. During many games though, corners seem to give Patterson a 10-yard cushion so he doesn’t beat them deep. Patterson tends to benefit from that defensive scheme.
Patterson is average in this category. With only being at Tennessee for one year, he didn’t have much time to improve his route running. While it can be improved in the NFL level, it’s still a concern.
Since he doesn’t have the strength to fight with press corners he can be re-routed pretty easily but his speed will allow him to gain separation from many corners in the NFL. In addition, since the corners tend to play off of Patterson, he can use his speed to deceive the cornerback with a double move.
During some routes Patterson will tend to look down the field thinking about a big play before he actually catches the ball. He dropped a touchdown against Georgia this past season by doing this exact same thing.
One thing Patterson does very well is his positioning during his routes, especially on slants. He uses his bigger frame to get inside the cornerback and prevent them from reaching inside to deflect the pass.
Patterson has decent hands but there a few issues that are concerning. First, he is more of a chest catcher instead of a hands catcher. When he allows the ball into his chest, it gives the corners extra time to get their hand inside and knock the ball out. In addition, it leads him to drop more balls than he should.
Patterson has the ability to elevate and attack the ball at the highest point. This can make him a great asset on an NFL team. There are times when the ball may be out of reach where he will give up and allow the defense to make a play on the ball. That is concerning but something that can be coached at the next level.
Playing at Tennessee will give Patterson an advantage in catching balls thrown at a very fast speed. Tyler Bray would throw rockets across the middle of the field into tight windows and Patterson would do a solid job on those throws most of the time.
Run After Catch
This is where Patterson excels. As soon as he has the ball in his hands in the open field he can be electric. He is a dynamic player and is extremely hard to bring down in the open field because no one can catch him. If he gets bottled up, he can find his way out of it and break a long play down field. One example of this was in the game against Mississippi State.
This is a problem for Patterson as well. His size is great for a run blocker but since he doesn’t have much weight or strength to use, he isn’t a good run blocker. Corners have no problem getting around him or knocking him off balance in the run game. If he struggled in the run game in college, it will only be worse in the NFL with bigger and stronger athletes.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Patterson is a guy that can fit in all schemes. He will be the speed receiver that can spread the field and be a team’s deep threat. It’s hard to tell whether he will ever be a true No. 1 WR but the potential is definitely there. Taking him in the top 10 will be a stretch but if some team falls in love with his speed, he could get drafted that high. Patterson can also provide teams a threat in the kick and punt return game with his electric play and elusiveness.
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