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WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee – An Introduction
Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has become a hot item. The former junior college transfer has traveled upwards on media draft boards all the way to a potential top 12 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Recently, ESPN’s Mel Kiper made waves with Dolphins fans by saying that Cordarrelle Patterson is the only wide receiver the Dolphins could take at #12 overall “that would make any sense”.
It feels like Miami Dolphins fans may be too late to the party on Patterson. While former NFL scout Bucky Brooks has had Patterson going to the Dolphins at 12 overall in previous iterations of his mock draft, and now has him going as low as #17 to the Steelers in his latest mock draft, several of his colleagues at NFL.com have Patterson going even higher. Former General Managers Scott Pioli and Mike Tannenbaum have the Jets taking Patterson at #9 overall. Former NFL Scout Daniel Jeremiah agrees with that projection. Former General Manager Charlie Casserly has him going #8 overall to the Buffalo Bills. Former Head Coach Brian Billick has Patterson going #6 overall to the Cleveland Browns, and Albert Breer evidently agrees with that projection.
In a way, I’m reminded of a similar Draft Winds piece Simon Clancy and I authored about Cam Newton on February 15, 2011.
You could feel Volunteers wide receiver coach Darin Hinshaw’s excitement when he would speak about Patterson’s upcoming arrival:
"He's very, very smart. He understands the game really well, and when he gets here, the competition's going to go through the roof. That's what we want."
Trying to make an impact with a big program, especially one in a defense-dominated conference such as the SEC, is not an easy task. Making that task even harder is the fact that Patterson arrived to the program a month late, as he still had classes to finish up at Hutchinson. According to Cordarrelle, he spent an extra 30-35 minutes every day with coach Hinshaw in order to bring him up to speed with the rest of the players on the offense.
Here is an interesting comment from former Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley, who coached with Nick Saban in college and pro football for many years:
“I never have been around someone who has made a bigger impact in such a short time.”
It is important to note that not everything in Patterson’s history checks out. It was widely rumored, though never in any way substantiated, that when Patterson chose to play for Tennessee, he demanded they hire hire receivers coach Brandon Staley as a package deal. He denied the rumors.
He had not one, but two touchdown-negating unsportsmanlike penalties called on him in 2012:
During the Quicken Loans All-Star Football Challenge, Patterson noticeably loafed when it came his time to run through the obstacles during the team competition. This was merely an exhibition, and the ultimate reason he failed to take it seriously was because his “team” was already far, far behind in the team medley after some missed kicks by the field goal kicker as well as some struggles by the quarterback in the basket throw. This is not necessarily the sign of a bad attitude, but rather just another brain fart moment that showed a lack of understanding that in this process, eyes are on you at all times.
One of the best on-field examples of this kind of brain fart moment came during an interception against Mississippi State. Tyler Bray threw the ball far to the inside on a deep ball with both a corner and safety in coverage. Patterson tracked the ball in the air, looked down at the safety, recognized that he had no shot at the ball, and then stopped for a short time before realizing he needs to play defender. Again, this is not evidence of a malicious or selfish attitude, just more evidence of questionable awareness and a tendency toward potentially dangerous brain fart moments.
Yet more examples of this came during the NFL Combine ...
Production & Statistics
Suffice it to say, Cordarrelle Patterson lit the Jayhawk conference on fire at Hutchinson. His production there is worth mentioning, since ultimately it still counts as college football production. In two seasons, he had 113 catches for 1,849 yards and 24 TDs. He also had 39 carries for 398 yards and 6 TDs. He added 31 kick and punt returns for 882 yards and 6 TDs.
You can’t have an honest conversation about Patterson’s production without talking about his toughest stretch of receiving production against Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi State and South Carolina. During those games he caught only 8 balls for 107 yards and 1 TD, hardly the stuff of legend. But a few notes:
Patterson had limited opportunities because of his newness to the offense. Justin Hunter was thrown the football 31 times in those games, whereas Tyler Bray only dialed up Patterson’s number 21 times.
You have to consider the run plays for Patterson in these games because they functioned the same as screen passes. With runs added in, suddenly he had 19 touches for 234 yards and 2 TDs in that 4 game stretch. That’s not bad.
Finding a way to affect the game is finding a way to affect the game, and in addition to the total yardage from scrimmage production during that stretch he also had a 100+ yard kick return for a touchdown against Mississippi State, bringing his touchdown total in this 4 game stretch to 3 total scores.
In the 8 games against these good defenders and/or good defenses, he found a way to score with the football in his hands a total of 8 times. The only one of those teams that kept him out of the end zone was the future National Champion Crimson Tide. That’s showing up against good football teams.
Back to North Carolina State, Patterson has one of his ridiculous runs against them, but note at the end when even after cutting a bunch of time (expending a tremendous amount of energy) he gets into a stride-for-stride open field situation with David Amerson, who just could not keep up with him. As I said before, David Amerson ran a 4.38 in the 40 yard dash. He was clearly a shade slower than Patterson even after Cordarrelle did all that cutting.
Hands & Catching
There is an active myth running around that Cordarrelle Patterson does not possess good hands and is a body catcher. Here are some clips that I believe showcase his hands:
You will note that I included a few clips of him from high school and more clips of him from Hutchinson Community College. The reason I did this was simply to show that he is a player that has good hands, is capable of making fantastic catches, and always has been. You don’t suddenly lose your good hands, ability to track the football and secure challenged catches. Because he only had a chance to catch 46 passes at Tennessee, the number of opportunities for him to showcase his hands was limited. A mere few drops spoils everyone’s opinion. That’s why I dug a little deeper into his history so that I could get a more thorough view of his hands.
Size & Strength
At the Combine, Cordarrelle Patterson measured just over 6’2” in height with 216 lbs. of weight on him. He was well muscled and it is obvious he works out diligently. Sometimes it is easy to forget how this kind of size can benefit you on the football field.
Before I get into the video, I will say that one of my chief concerns with Cordarrelle Patterson involves his route running. It’s not refinement or technique that bother me. He’s better than most give him credit for in that regard. My issues are more about awareness and consistency.
Run After Catch -
Here is where we get to the fun stuff. ...
Now that you have read all of this (or not, if you skipped down I wouldn’t blame you), I get to tell you that I do not think the Miami Dolphins will have interest in Cordarrelle Patterson at the 12th overall pick in the 1st round. General Manager Jeff Ireland does not have a history suggesting he would accept the risk of a high 1st round wide receiver, let alone this particular one with the challenges he presents. And when Joe Philbin puts Cordarrelle Patterson on the white board, draws up a play and asks Patterson to explain how different coverage would make him adapt his route, I am not entirely sure Patterson will impress in the too-short span of 15 minutes available for these interviews.
Meanwhile, he gives you a 6’2” and 216 lbs. player that runs as purely fast as Mike Wallace yet moves with the football in his hands like Percy Harvin. A lot of the great players at that position in this league will give you absent-minded brain fart moments. There is always some kind of drawback. But having a player of this caliber helps an offense, and I firmly believe he should be on the short list of choices for the Dolphins at #12 overall.