The Notre Dame Fighting Irish sent three offensive linemen to the NFL Draft this past spring. Who will they send next year in April of 2022? The top candidate is Notre Dame C Jarrett Patterson, an NFL Draft prospect whose scouting report was worthy of consideration in 2021. What should you expect from Patterson in 2021, and how high can he go off the board with a strong campaign?
Jarrett Patterson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Center
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 305 pounds
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Jarrett Patterson Scouting Report
Before we continue, I have to clarify something. This article is not about Jaret Patterson, the former Buffalo and current Washington Football Team running back who scored 8 touchdowns in a game at one point in 2020. This article is about Notre Dame C and 2022 NFL Draft prospect Jarrett Patterson. Not the running back, but instead the blocker who paves the lane open for his running backs.
Running back performance (and offensive performance in general) has always been contingent on offensive line play. And Notre Dame, for a long time, has been an NFL factory in the trenches. Year after year, they produce linemen who can be difference-makers in all phases and ultimately start at the professional level. Does Patterson have the skill set to be next in line?
Patterson’s athletic profile
Upper-echelon athleticism isn’t necessarily required on the interior, but players who have it likely have an increased ceiling. Such is the case with Patterson. The Notre Dame product is fairly quick out of his stance and flashes good explosiveness for his 6’5″, 305-pound frame. He possesses smooth lateral mobility and shuffles easily between landmarks. Additionally, Patterson changes directions quickly for his size and has great recovery athleticism.
Patterson’s mobility allows him to adjust his angle in tight quarters, and he possesses good twitch, storing lots of potential energy in his frame. While Patterson has the athletic traits to adapt in tight quarters, he also has the physical capacity to withstand contact and power. The Fighting Irish center’s torso flexibility helps him absorb force at the point of attack, and he actively leans into rushes to stay well-balanced, using his strong base to stay on platform.
Among other things, Patterson has excellent leg drive when latched onto opponents, and his grip strength is solid. He derives much of his power from a strong lower body, and he’s strong enough to hold his ground in congested areas.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Patterson is a good athlete, but beyond that, he’s also just a good football player. The Notre Dame center plays with great pad level. He’s able to lower his shoulders and attain superior leverage on a regular basis. Additionally, Patterson has the lean to maximize his reach, even if his length isn’t elite.
Moving further, Patterson generally brings urgency as a mover, and he’s a high-effort blocker who emanates energy. He keeps his hands and feet active when awaiting contact, levying powerful extensions and employing fast hands in one-on-one situations. His eyes are constantly up and alert, and he always seeks out extra work when available for help.
Rounding out his intangible traits, Patterson responds reasonably well to stunts. He can identify free rushers early, and he’s able to disengage and jump to secondary defenders with relative ease. Moreover, Patterson has a lot of projected versatility. He was a tackle recruit out of high school, an All-ACC center at Notre Dame, and may play guard this coming season. That positional flexibility will only magnify his value to NFL teams in April and could drive up his draft stock.
Areas for improvement
Patterson has a fairly strong NFL Draft profile on the interior, but there are some mitigating factors regarding his upside. Most notably, Patterson’s length is not elite and may even be average. This lack of elite length can force him to reach beyond his center of gravity at times. Furthermore, Patterson’s length can impact his ability to sustain blocks in the running game, and he doesn’t always strike first against length mismatches.
With whatever length he does have, Patterson can use it more effectively as a conduit, especially in the running game. Opposing defenders with plus grip strength can wrench him off-balance. And in leverage-neutral situations, Patterson’s raw power isn’t always superior. Additionally, in pass protection, Patterson’s hands don’t always strike cleanly. He can get driven back easily when he loses initially at the contact point.
While Patterson is generally solid against stunts, there are times when he can be late to react. Going further, he’s sometimes indecisive when following blocking angles at the second level. And lastly, despite his athleticism, his range blocking in motion and on screens sometimes underwhelms.
Jarrett Patterson’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Much of Patterson’s NFL Draft projection depends on whether or not he’ll stay at the center position. To this point, the Notre Dame product has produced quality tape at the line’s fulcrum. However, he could be on the move in 2021. Even amidst this uncertainty, Patterson’s positional versatility will be one of his most appealing traits. Versatile linemen are coveted at the NFL level. On top of that versatility, Patterson has starting potential at multiple positions.
Given his lack of elite length, Patterson might be better served to remain on the interior at the next level. Still, with his athleticism, functional strength, urgency, and strong leverage, the Notre Dame center has the tools to make a difference in multiple phases. He’s already an exceptional pass protector, and he has the traits to be an effective zone blocker in the pros as well. With his high-floor, high-ceiling combination, Patterson is easily worth a Day 2 selection.
Jarrett Patterson Player Profile
Notre Dame routinely pursues some of the most talented high school linemen in the nation. One of the NCAA’s best offensive line producers demands a steady influx of upper-echelon players to mold, after all. In the 2018 recruiting class, Patterson found his way onto the Fighting Irish radar, all the way out in Mission Viejo, California.
A four-star recruit, Patterson played offensive tackle for Mission Viejo, a team that saw plenty of success across his varsity tenure. Patterson, then a 6’5″, 267-pound monolith, leveraged his success into a host of Division I-A offers. He could have joined schools like Utah, Auburn, Michigan, and TCU. But the offer from Notre Dame was easily Patterson’s best chance at making the leap to the pros. So, he set his sights on South Bend.
Jarrett Patterson’s career at Notre Dame and NFL Draft ascension
Patterson earned limited playing time in his first collegiate season, but it wasn’t enough to lift his redshirt designation. In 2019, Patterson returned as a redshirt freshman. He was 300 pounds by that point, and he seemed safely on track to compete for a tackle spot. The Fighting Irish coaching staff, however, had other plans in mind. They moved Patterson inside to center, curious to see how he’d translate.
As it turns out, Patterson translated very well. He started at center for all 13 games during Notre Dame’s 2019 campaign and played well enough to keep the job in 2020. Last year, Patterson returned as the full-time starter, and he dominated the first eight games before a foot injury knocked him out for the month of December. Even while missing a third of the season, Patterson still earned third-team All-ACC recognition.
The California native could have entered the 2021 NFL Draft, but instead, Patterson chose to return to Notre Dame for another year. After standing out on a line that included Liam Eichenberg, Aaron Banks, Robert Hainsey, and Tommy Kraemer, Patterson now has a chance to take it one step further and truly become the anchor of Notre Dame’s blocking unit.
If everything goes as planned, Patterson could be a top-50 pick — wherever he lines up.
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