Making a case for Cordarrelle Patterson as the top receiver in the 2013 NFL Draft class
Unique. That describes Cordarrelle Patterson to a tee. Patterson brings a unique versatility to the next level that hasn’t been seen before. At my count, Patterson lined up as a back, threw a pass (28-yard completion), returned punts, returned kicks, and oh yeah, he played wide receiver.
Patterson’s versatility led to him breaking the Tennessee all-purpose yardage mark as he accounted for 1,858 yards in a disappointing 5-7 season for the Volunteers. To put Patterson’s numbers into perspective, we compare him to West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, arguably college football’s most versatile player. In 2012, Austin accounted for 231 total touches amassing 2,760 total yards. Patterson accounted for 99 total touches to accumulate his 1,858 yards. On a per touch basis, Austin averages 11.9 yards while Patterson averages 18.8 yards. One slight difference, Austin checks in at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds while Patterson goes 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds it’s conceivable that Patterson could run a sub-4.4 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. He’s an elite athlete with rare wingspan/catching radius. Patterson is a guy that you can check all the boxes from a physical standpoint. When Patterson sets his mind to dominating a game, he can. It’s so rare that a wide receiver can take over a game but Patterson is capable of doing just that.
Outside of the physical gifts that Patterson possesses, he brings a new meaning to open field ability. Maybe Patterson greatest gift is his vision and feel for space in the open field. There are numerous occasions where Patterson appears dead to rights but finds a hole or crease and uses his unreal speed to expose the defense. Tavon Austin is absolutely special in the open field but he is matched by Patterson in this receiving class.
With most every NFL prospects there are downsides. For Patterson, they revolve around the question of does he have “it” in him to be great. There were times in the middle of the season that Patterson appeared disinterested in playing at a high level. He was a relative non-factor against Akron, Alabama, and South Carolina. In games against Mississippi State and Georgia it appeared that Tennessee was manufacturing ways to get him into the game, whether it be on reverses or on special teams.
Patterson will need to become a more fluid route runner at the next level. He relied on his speed and frame to win matchups as his routes looked lazy at times. This may be a product of the fact that Patterson was essentially a freshman last season and will come with good coaching and experience in an NFL system.
As many of my readers know, a personal pet peeve of mine is diva wide recievers. It’s so 2005. Today’s NFL dominant NFL receivers are anti-diva’s. Patterson is known to celebrate before getting to the endzone and brings the diva factor to the game. My hope is that maturing in the NFL will be a quick process and put an end to Patterson’s diva days.
Pictures speak louder than words, so I take to the film to show you the highlight film that is Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson’s unique ability to make people look foolish in the open field was on full display against Missouri. The next screenshot gives you an idea of the freakish athleticism that is unique to this guy.
This is truly an incredible display of athleticism and the exact thing that separates Patterson from the other 2013 receivers. This is no one in this draft that is 6’3 that can do things like this. In the NFL, there isn’t an athlete at this size that can do the things athletically that Patterson can.
It’s easy to point to Patterson’s costly drop against Georgia and say he has below average hands or is a raw catcher of the ball. I don’t believe that to be the case. Patterson shows natural instincts when it comes to catching the football. His long arms and catching radius allow him to pluck the ball away from his body and he rarely puts it on the ground in traffic, a testament to his catching ability.
Patterson beat Amerson by four yards on this one. The frame shows about two yards of separation but it’s due to his adjustment to the ball. Patterson is NFL ready in terms of being a vertical route runner. He will need some work getting off press as physical corners gave him problems as the season progressed. Good luck if he gets a free release without help.
Patterson shows on this play why he will be a handful in the redzone at the next level. This is solid technique from Darius Slay, who’s a draftable cornerback. Slay does his best to take away the outside as he has help to the inside but Patterson’s use of his big body and pure speed don’t allow him to break his course. The next shot shows what makes Patterson so special on the goal line.
In the last shot you see the ball arriving before Patterson is out his break. Patterson’s ability to track the ball quickly is that of an NFL veteran, not of a guy that played one season of major college football.
Cordarrelle Patterson has all the makings of a special talent at the next level. That said, he also has some characteristics to bust out of the NFL very quickly. Teams will be tasked to define the risk versus reward in his case. This may ultimately keep him out of the top twenty picks of April’s draft. But it could be precisely what intrigues a team, say the Miami Dolphins, to risk a top fifteen pick on this guy.