It’s time for another installment of my “2013 Mock Draft Analysis!” On Monday, Josh Sanchez of Fansided.com unveiled his new and updated 2013 NFL Mock Draft. In his Mock, Sanchez projected the following player to be selected by the Steelers with their 1st Round pick:
Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, University of Tennessee
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost Mike Wallace in free agency and saw teams flirting with restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders. The team risks losing Sanders just a season from now and they have little talent at the position outside of Antonio Brown. The team re-signed Plaxico Burress, but he isn’t a long-term answer. Patterson, on the other hand, could be just what the Steelers offense is looking for and a perfect compliment opposite of Brown.
First of all, let me state that Sanchez is “right on the money” with his assessment on the state of the Steelers at the wide receiver position. At least I believe that his assessment is correct, because I stated essentially the exact same thing on the subject only two weeks ago.
When I watched Cordarrelle Patterson last year, I was in awe of how much of an explosive play-maker he was in a number of different areas. Not only was he an effective and explosive pass-catcher, the former Volunteer did a fantastic job on handoffs out of the backfield, and even made some electrifying plays on kickoffs and punt returns.
In only his first season of FBS football, the pass-catcher burst on the scene as a pass-catcher, runner, and special teams return man. Overall, Patterson (6’2″ 216 lbs.) recorded 46 catches, 778 yards, 5 touchdowns, 308 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns, and returned 1 kickoff and 1 punt for scores too.
Yet as much as I am in awe of Cordarrelle’s ability to break big plays, I am not as sold on the former Volunteer receiver as so many others are. As large of a need as wide receiver is for the Steelers, I nevertheless believe that taking a player like Patterson at #17 overall is an enormous risk for Pittsburgh’s Front Office to undertake.
Although Cordarrelle is a threat to score from any spot on the field, he is less than accomplished as a route-runner and lacks the polish of a Keenan Allen of California or a DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson. I should also add that I am less than impressed with his ability to catch the football, and Patterson’s hands definitely worry me. If Patterson is running sloppy or the wrong routes, how is Ben Roethlisberger going to be able to deliver the football to him with any sort of consistency? And if he is dropping the football as often as he catches it, I am sure that “Steeler Nation” will give him the same type of treatment that Mike Wallace received last year when he had his case of the “butterfingers.”
While I am not completely sold on Patterson, I should add that I would not object to the Steelers taking another Wide Receiver in Round 1. In fact, I would welcome it if Pittsburgh’s brass took one with their 1st Round pick. I just believe that the franchise should be looking for a “different kind” of pass-catcher. By “different” I mean someone like Allen, Hopkins, or Patterson’s teammate and the Volunteer’s leading receiver last season, Justin Hunter.
The Steelers need a tall, physically imposing, red zone threatening player at the wide receiver position, and all three of the aforementioned players fit that bill. Not only can Allen, Hunter, and Hopkins succeed in those areas, I believe that all three are also much more polished than Patterson in terms of their hands, route-running, and blocking abilities.
Are they as “explosive” or “dynamic” as Patterson is in terms of being threats to take a simple slant pattern 80 yards after one missed tackle? No, but the Steelers do not necessarily need that type of pass-catcher on their roster at the moment as they have Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders (if he is not RFA tendered by anybody).
Allen, Hunter, and Hopkins would be less risky investments than a player like Patterson would be, and have the potential to help the Steelers’ offense as “outside-the-numbers” pass-catching threats, and help in red zone situations as well.
Regardless of my thoughts and feelings on Patterson as a prospect, wide receiver is a huge need for the Steelers and must be filled through the draft process. Whether or not they elect to fill it on Day 1, Day 2, or Day 3 is up for debate. But no one should question that it is an enormous position of need for the rebuilding franchise.