Cordarrelle Patterson–Have You All Gone Mad?

Last night on the NFL network I saw a mock draft that had Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson going in the top 10 of the NFL Draft.  Let’s take him into The Lab and dissect his 2012 season.

Patterson arrived at Tennessee with much fan fare.  He was a highly touted JUCO prospect after posting a 61 catches-924 yards-15 TDs in 12 games for Hutchinson Community College.  With two years of eligibility remaining, he was poised to join the high-powered Vols aerial game led by fellow WR Justin Hunter and QB Tyler Bray (lol).

His 2012 season was a moderate success, posting 46 catches, 778 yards, and 5 touchdowns, but he was still second fiddle to Justin Hunter, who stats were at least 40% higher than Patterson in each category.  Does anyone else find it strange that the ‘best WR in the 2013 draft’ was maybe not even the best WR on his own team?

I would run away from selecting Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round (Credit: Parker Edison, The Daily Beacon)

On a per game basis, Patterson’s numbers look something like this:  3.8 catches,  64 yards,  .42 TD.  For historical perspective, those are comparable to SEC guys like Early Doucet (81st pick, 2008 draft) and Earl Bennett (70th pick, 2008 draft).  What have those guys done in the NFL?

And you’re thinking of taking Patterson in the top 10?

  • Tennessee fan: But he’s bigger than those guys! He’s a redzone threat!
  • Me: Oh, so then why did he only catch 5 touchdowns all season, and never in back-to-back games?

Let’s compare him to another ‘bigger’ SEC wide receiver, Mohamed Massaquoi (50th pick, 2009 draft).  Massaquoi actually posted better numbers than Patterson, with 4.5 catches, 70 yards and .6 TDs per game.  Looks like Massaquoi wins out in this contest.

And you’re thinking of taking Patterson in the top 10?

I wish I was joking, but I honestly don’t see how Patterson is any better of a pass catcher than Auburn’s SR Emory Blake, who is ranked 30th of the Senior Wide Receivers… not all wide receivers…. 30th of the SENIORS!  And in fairness to Blake, he was playing in a far worse passing attack.

Average Season Stat Line:

  • Blake– 4.1 catches,  65 yards,  .25 TD
  • Patterson– 3.8 catches,  64 yards,  .42 TD

Games vs BCS conf opponents with 4+ catches

  • Blake– 7
  • Patterson– 3

Games vs BCS conf opponents with 60+ receiving yards

  • Blake– 4
  • Patterson– 3

Games vs BCS conf opponents with 1+TD

  • Blake– 3
  • Patterson– 4

And you’re thinking of taking Patterson in the top 10?

Okay fine, so I can’t be 100% hate.  The youtube highlight reels are impressive.  He shows outstanding change of direction and open field skills.  But, the thing that bugs me is that they’re almost all on runs and kick off returns.  For the season, Patterson ran it 25 times for 308 yards and 3 TDs while also amassing ~800 return yards.

(Continuation piece on Patterson’s historical unworthiness here)

The passes he does catch are mostly in favorable matchups when the defense is scheming to stop Justin Hunter.  For ‘the best WR in the 2013 draft,’ he doesn’t do a lot of receiving.  And you certainly can’t draft a guy in the top 10 to be a kick returner, can you, Miami Dolphins?

Funny I should mention that incident and Tedd Ginn.  Yes, Patterson is bigger, but his highlight reel looks a lot like Tedd Ginn’s.  In fact, so do his receiving numbers.  How’d that Tedd Ginn thing work out?

16 thoughts on “Cordarrelle Patterson–Have You All Gone Mad?

  1. Keith

    One note that I would make is that if you look at Patterson’s production vs Hunter production against FBS winning teams this season, Patterson has a higher productivity score as a receiver. Justin Hunter is your typical tease player. Great physical talent, but he feasts on poor competition and does not produce against top competition.

  2. Great point, Keith. And to be perfectly honest, the “vs. winning FBS” analysis is not one that I’ve gotten to yet for the 2012 season. It will certainly be in my draft guide, but for now I’m just doing some preliminary sifting based on what strikes me. A quick crunch would verify your findings:

    Vs winning competition
    Patterson- 40 productivity score
    Hunter- 25 productivity score

    Thanks for commenting, sir!

  3. Keith

    I was looking back at the 2008 draft that saw 10 wide receivers drafted in the second round. Of those, only 3 or 4 have gone on to become productive NFL receivers (Jordy Nelson, DeSean Jackson, Eddie Royal, and perhaps Jerome Simpson. Those that failed though had relatively high productivity scores. Have you done any correlations with your productivity score and how predictive it is for NFL success?

  4. Hey Keith,
    The productivity score is just one element of the equation. The Combine performance certainly factors in considerably, as does level of competition. The model that I’ve built goes toward projecting peak production within the first three seasons of one’s NFL career, as usually they get phased out if they haven’t made an impact by the end of year three. The models that I have range in **r-squared from 40% to 50%**, having examined ~130 players drafted between 2000 and 2009. I’m constantly tinkering with them to improve the prediction and add in new environmental elements (i.e. quality of QB, both pro and NCAA).

    To speak to the 2008 season, here’s how I would have graded them factoring in season production and combine performance:
    1) Jordy Nelson
    2) Devin Thomas– whiff
    3) James Hardy (tore ACL in year 2)
    4) Andre Caldwell– 50+ reception season in first three years
    5) Earl Bennett– 50+ reception season in first three years
    6) Pierre Garcon
    7) Brian Robiskie– whiff
    8) Mario Manningham
    9) Desean Jackson
    10) Josh Morgan– 50+ reception season in first three years
    11) Stevie Johnson
    12) Harry Douglass
    13) Darius Reynaud
    14) Limas Sweed– using 2006 data, as he was injured most of 2007.
    15) Early Doucet
    16) Donnie Avery (tore ACL in year 3)

    Again, none of that is to account for attitude, intelligence, work ethic, landing situation (depth chart, scheme, QB), etc. Also, injuries play a role.

    To speak to the 2008 class, here’s how I would have had them ranked after the season & combine

  5. Keith

    I’m curious to see where Stedman Bailey is going to rank in your system. From a production standpoint, his numbers are off the chart.

    His biggest problem is that he’s going to be around 5’10”, 190 lbs or so at best. That’s going to hurt him in the eyes of many scouts, and his production will be ignored.

    I don’t know what numbers you are looking at on him, but I’ve got him with an overall productivity score of 95, and against winning competition, that score goes up to 107.

    His more heralded teammate has an overall productivity score of 57, and that actually goes down to 52 against winning teams.

    IMO, Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson are similar in the sense that they have great all around skills but are currently limited for one reason or another as a receiver. In Tavon’s case, his size hurts him. In Cordarrelle’s case, it is his inexperience and overall greeness as a receiver.

    Where did Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin rate in your system? I’m curious, because I see these two as similar players to both Austin and Patterson. In fact, I was surprised at how low Harvin’s productivity score as a receiver was.

  6. Hey Keith,

    You’ve got the hang of tracking the productivity scores.

    As far as the 2009 class, my grades (predraft) would have been:
    Dez Bryant
    Louis Murphy
    Kenny Britt
    Hakeem Nicks
    Jeremy Maclin

    Harvin was further down the list, because similar to Austin and Patterson, his rush/return yards are a little more difficult to account for. Also, his workout numbers were tricky because he ran one day, jumped a different day, and did none of the shuttles. Even at that, his numbers were fairly average. Were his true physical ‘tools’ veiled by the ankle injury? Who knows. Nonetheless, there’s lots of moving parts to account for and I’m still working to factor these other things into the picture.

  7. ckparrothead

    I don’t think the statistics-based story is going to play out well for a Cordarrelle Patterson specifically because he was a first year JUCO transfer, coming into an offense that already had an established connection between QB and WR, playing against the highest quality defenses in college football in the SEC. That’s a really tough nut to crack, and there’s a reason Derek Dooley said that he’s literally never seen a guy come in and make that big an impact that quickly.

    The statistics probably need to be compared with other highly rated and/or NFL successful former JUCO transfers. Stevie Johnson of the Bills came out of JUCO and jumped in with Kentucky (an SEC team facing SEC defenses) who already had an established connection between Andre Woodson (thought highly of at the time, similar to Bray) and Keenan Burton. That first year, Stevie Johnson only had 12 catches for 159 yards and 1 TD. He was outjockeyed for playing time not only by Keenan Burton but by Dickie Lyons, both now members of the “where are they now” club.

    But it’s not just Stevie Johnson. Isaac Bruce was a JUCO transfer and in his first year out of JUCO he had 43 catches for 562 yards and 5 TDs. Chad Johnson was a JUCO transfer and in his first year off the transfer at Oregon State he had 33 catches for 713 yards and 6 TDs. Carolina’s Steve Smith was a JUCO transfer at Utah and in his first year off the transfer he had 35 catches for 743 yards and 4 TDs. T.J. Houshmandzadeh in his first year off a JUCO transfer at Oregon State had 24 catches for 378 yards and 2 TDs.

    In fact if you tally up 12 former JUCO transfers that either went on to produce in the NFL and/or went in the 1st/2nd round of the NFL Draft, you find that the average RECEIVING production in that 1st year off JUCO transfer is about 42 catches for 711 yards and 5 touchdowns. Not so coincidentally, Patterson had 46 catches for 778 yards and 5 touchdowns.

    You raise another point which is that it seemed like Cordarrelle was guarded lightly as teams were more worried about Justin Hunter. While this is true part of the time, teams figured out relatively quickly that they had to guard both men and in some cases they chose to guard Patterson more tightly. Georgia is a great example. They started the game putting Branden Smith (who has 4.43 speed) on Cordarrelle Patterson. But this is not their best corner. Their best corner is Sanders Commings. Smith was played in an aggressive role, up tight with the line of scrimmage. Patterson immediately burned him on several routes. On one such he ran a vertical against the speedy Smith who was in a press position but bailed early, and Smith couldn’t keep up. Patterson was open. The ball was not complete but the coaches got the point. They switched Sanders Commings onto Patterson for most of the rest of the game, where they could afford to match personnel. And on the few occasions Smith found himself matched up on Patterson again, he was helped by spacing on the line of scrimmage and other defenders. In fact here’s a good example of how they guarded the dangerous Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone. You’ll see in this clip three defenders all clustering around Patterson, opening the way for the tailback to catch the football underneath.

    I think defenses noticed Cordarrelle Patterson very early in the season, especially after practically the first thing he did this year was torch David Amerson. Teams often guarded him just as closely as Justin Hunter, but Hunter had more receiving production simply because of Tyler Bray being more comfortable with him. The focus on Patterson and Hunter opened the way for Mychal Rivera, Zach Rogers, Martin Lane and Rajion Neal to catch so many balls underneath.

    And the other thing to note is that all told offensively Cordarrelle Patterson was thrown or given the ball 105 times and produced 1131 yards and 8 touchdowns. Justin Hunter was given or thrown the ball 128 times and produced 1087 yards and 9 touchdowns. In other words Patterson produced 10.8 yards every time his number versus Patterson producing 8.5 yards every time his number was called, and Patterson actually produced more yards than Hunter period.

    Heading into the season Justin Hunter was widely considered half of a two-man race with Keenan Allen for best wide receiver in college football. Cordarrelle Patterson was a first year JUCO transfer getting his first taste not only of FBS football, but the SEC conference…and he outproduced Hunter. Flat outproduced him.

    I don’t expect you to change your mind about Cordarrelle Patterson. You seem pretty entrenched in how you think about him. But the topic and tone of your post implied that you literally do not know what the fans of Cordarrelle Patterson are seeing in him that makes him a potential high or mid 1st round pick. At the very least you should take away from what I’ve said that there is indeed a cogent rationale for that grade, even if you don’t ultimately agree with it.

  8. ckparrothead

    On the clip above, the link is supposed to take you directly to a time stamp at 8 minutes and 10 seconds into the video. It looks like WordPress decided to post the video itself in my post and so the play is lost. Here is the time stamp link in quotations so maybe you can copy and paste it into your browser, or you can just fast forward to 8:10 in the video above.


  9. CK,
    Thank you for your response. I’ll have time to answer in more detail later. To your point about JUCOs, it’s also worth mentioning that Steve Smith, Stevie Johnson, and Isaac Bruce all played two years at their schools before going to the NFL. Chad and Housh both went 1 and done. And considering that Housh took until his fourth season to produce, Chad then is the only real leg to stand on with the 1-done argument.

    It’s not so much that I think Patterson will never amount to anything. It’s more about it being necessary for him to become more polished before jumping to the NFL. He would undoubtedly take large leaps forward in year 2 of his NCAA days and elevate his status to a round 1 prospect in 2014 draft.

    It’s less about what guys do in their first year after JUCO and more about what they do in their last year before the NFL. Isaac Bruce had 10 receiving touchdowns in 11 games (58% of TDs). Stevie had 13 receiving touchdowns in 13 games (32% of TDs). Steve Smith acocunted for 36% of TDs at Utah. Chad Johnson 35%.

    Cordarrelle Patterson? 14% of receiving TDs.

    The potential is there, no doubt. The production you’d like to see in a final-college-season, is not.

    Nonetheless, thank you for reading and your fantastic comment!

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  11. But the fact is he simply isn’t going to be playing that second season. So, teams and evaluators have to come up with some type of trajectory on what they have seen to determine if a kid still has room to improve or if they are near their perceived ceiling.

    To anyone with two working eyes it is pretty clear Patterson is oozing with potential. Also it would be pretty easy to project that if he were to come back for one more season he would be the top option on his team and put up the stats that are more commonly associated with a high round draft choice at WR. Would it then be okay to draft him in the top 10? Personally, I don’t need to see someone do it, to know they can.

    Coming back for a season, in my opinion, would not make him a better player, more specifically it would not give him a higher ceiling. It would actually take away one season that he can work with the best in the business. Whatever team drafts him will have a plan for him and get starting working with him to make him the best possible player to fit that plan.

    He is a unique player, another reason why he could go in the top 10. He can do things that maybe no one else on the planet can movement wise. I can’t remember ever seeing someone that big with these kind of moves. Seriously he moves like Tavon Austin but is what 7-8 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier? Pretty impressive to me.

    Honestly, I’ve never read any of your stuff, stumbled here from twitter, and was a little bit surprised how much value you have give to production. But, I commend you for putting your non-traditional opinion out there for everyone to consider. Honestly there wasn’t one thing you said that detracts from Patterson in my eyes, but maybe I am just wearing blinders. who knows?

  12. Hey Avery,
    Thanks for stopping by and writing such a thoughtful comment. I’m aware that I’m exposing myself on this one, but I’m a ‘seeing is believing’ kind of guy. I DO need to see someone ‘do it’ to know that they can. If someone can’t do it against college competition, how are they supposed to do it in the NFL. Consider the top NFL wide receivers of last season and their productivity scores:

    Calvin Johnson–111
    Brandon Marshall–87
    Dez Bryant–123
    AJ Green–85
    Demaryius Thomas–145
    Andre Johnson–60
    Wes Welker–37
    Vincent Jackson–141
    Eric Decker–122
    Reggie Wayne–64
    Roddy White–101
    Julio Jones–64
    Victor Cruz–80
    Marques Colston–54
    Michael Crabtree–62
    James Jones–81
    Mike Williams- 104
    Stevie Johnson–60

    Cordarelle Patterson–35

    16 of the top 18 had a productivity score over 60. Patterson’s score sits at 35. Maybe it’s not a sure-fire predictor, but there’s at least SOMETHING important about producing in college leading to NFL success. If you’re a bad NFL franchise like the Bills or Browns, why would you use a top 10 pick on this guy when there are many more proven guys that could be had in the second or third round?

    I wouldn’t. And that’s the point I’m trying to make.

  13. Fair enough. Those franchises definitely should not be using their picks on him. But other teams maybe staring at 14 with Carolina would be a more realistic spot to project him. I could see any team picking 14-18 taking him. The Panthers, Saints, Rams, Steelers(If Wallace leaves and Cowboys (if Austin is let go) all make sense to some extent and he would fit well on all of those team in my opinion. And I think he is talented enough to take a risk on in that range. Also if a team falls in love it wouldn’t be hard for me to imagine them trading into the top 10 to pick him, especially the Rams with all their extra picks.

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