Join Date: Apr 2008
The Wonder(lic) of top WR prospects and other pass catcher tidbits
Bob McGinn: Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson has plenty of talent and question marks
C.O. Brocato of the Tennessee Titans, the grand old man of NFL scouting, said IQ is a vital part of the wide-receiver equation.
"They say it's not but I think it is," Brocato said. "They say just put a guy out there with speed and let him go. Where is he going to go? If he can't learn, how is he going to play?"
Therein lies the rub, particularly with Patterson. In the last two weeks, scouts from 10 teams expressed varying degrees of reservation whether he'll be up to the coming challenge.
"Mentally, it's going to be a project," one personnel man said. "Running routes, he doesn't know how to do any of that stuff. You may have to keep it simple for him, but this is football. It's not building a super glider or anything."
According to several teams, Patterson wasn't impressive during interviews at the combine. He also scored 11 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test, which caused more consternation.
"You're not expecting receivers to be in the 30s," an AFC personnel director said. "But you've got to have some type of intelligence to pick up the system.
"Toward the end of the year, they started to go away from running Patterson down the field on routes and gave him the ball on reverses and screens, even as a halfback at times. That starts to put a question mark in your head. Why?
"Well, there's reasons, and it's just not being as proficient with his route-running and not having the ability to make adjustments during the game."
Austin's test score was even lower at 7, but the majority of scouts expect him to learn a playbook without a major hitch.
"He's not a quick study and it will take him a little time," another personnel director said. "He will work at it. He cares greatly about it."
Justin Hunter, Patterson's teammate, scored just 12, but scouts consider him less of a risk mentally.
Patterson's journey to this point was unconventional, to say the least.
After spending time at two junior colleges and playing the 2010 and '11 seasons at Hutchinson (Kan.) College, Patterson was admitted to Tennessee in July. Six months later, he was declaring for the draft a year early.
"There's a huge correlation between experience playing the position in college and success in the NFL," one scout said. "Intelligence and work ethic are probably the two most important qualities because it's extremely tough."
Over the past decade, 10 wide receivers that declared at least a year early and were drafted in the first two rounds can be categorized as busts.
With their Wonderlic scores, they are Jon Baldwin (14), Darrius Heyward-Bey (14), Devin Thomas (23), Malcolm Kelly (22), James Hardy (14), Dwayne Jarrett (14), Chad Jackson (15), Troy Williamson (21), Reggie Williams (17) and Charles Rogers (10).
Meanwhile, intelligence is deemed a plus for Keenan Allen (19) and Robert Woods (23), the next-best receivers behind Patterson and Austin.
"Allen and Woods just know how to play," an NFC personnel director said. "You throw them in, they're going to run the right route, get open and catch the ball. "You can run fast 40s and be this and that, but if you don't know how to play it just kind of goes out the window."
The Journal Sentinel asked 16 personnel people to list their top five wide receivers and top four tight ends. At wide receiver, a first-place vote was worth five points, a second was worth four and so on.
Patterson (seven firsts) led with 62 points, followed by Austin, 60 (six firsts); Allen, 40 (one first); Woods, 25; DeAndre Hopkins, 24 (one first); Hunter, 16; Terrance Williams, five; and Stedman Bailey and Quinton Patton, each four.
At tight end, Tyler Eifert led the way with 63 points (15 firsts), followed by Zach Ertz, 40 (one first); Gavin Escobar, 22; Travis Kelce, 14; Vance McDonald and Jordan Reed, eight; Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera, two; and Chris Gragg, one.