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.
Cordarrelle Patterson: The Vitals
Position: Wide Receiver
40-yard dash: 4.42
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. His speed can also allow him to separate from cornerbacks in coverage.
Running after the catch 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 where he turned no gain into a 20-yard play up the field.
In addition, it helps that Patterson has great vision while being in the open field which helps him see holes in the defense and break big plays down the field.
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. While he won’t be a major red zone threat he can use his body to position himself very well to help block the corner that is covering him.
He does especially well positionining himself on slants getting inside cornerbacks and allowing the quarterback to hit him between the numbers.
Finally, while playing at Tennessee, Patterson had an advantage 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.
Patterson isn’t the best pass catcher in the wide receiver class. He is more of a chest-catcher than a hands-catcher. This can be a major problem in the NFL. 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 a player with his caliber of talent should have. He dropped a touchdown against Georgia this past season by doing this exact same thing.
In addition, Patterson seems to focus on making a big play up the field instead of keeping his focus on the ball.
Patterson is average in route running. 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.
Also, 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.
Blocking 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.
Potential Landing Spots
Patterson could go as high as No. 8 to the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills have a need for a wide receiver that can stretch the field and use his big frame to attack the ball at the highest point.
With Stevie Johnson working the middle of the field and T.J. Graham on the other side, Patterson could be a great fit.
On the other hand, the Bills may choose to address the quarterback position first, which would mean passing on Patterson.
If the Bills pass on Patterson with their first-round pick, another team that could select Patterson is the St. Louis Rams at No. 16.
In the NFC West, where the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers really stand out, the Rams could use as many weapons as possible. Most likely the Rams will lose Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, so there is a need for a No. 1 wide receiver. Quarterback Sam Bradford needs weapons offensively to keep pace with the more powerful teams in the division.
Lastly, the Pittsburgh Steelers could select Patterson at No. 17 to fill in for Mike Wallace. They have a few wide receivers that are solid route runners and can work the middle of the field, but don't have a wide receiver that can spread the field.
Patterson would provide them with that option along with someone who can be a factor on kick/punt return. Plus, Ben Roethlisberger is a quarterback who likes to throw the ball all over the field so giving him a threat like Patterson who can break big plays down the field, would help him greatly next year.
Early-to mid-1st round: Patterson is the top receiver in this draft class. While he doesn't have the hype of a Julio Jones or A.J. Green, he is worthy of a top 10 pick. The biggest question about him is his hands and whether he can be a consistent player on the next level. The lack of strength can cause problems for him too but the upside is definitely there.
Patterson reminds many people of Demaryius Thomas from the Denver Broncos. Thomas is a big wide receiver but people questioned his hands and route running when he entered the league.
He has blossomed into one of the better receivers in the NFL, many thanks to Peyton Manning.
Patterson can have the same type of good fortune. If the Steelers use their first-round pick on Patterson and he can work with Roethlisberger, he can develop into one of the better receivers in the NFL.