By: Tanner Elliott
Patterson was the best and most consistent player on Buffalo’s offense by a wide margin in 2020. His biggest strength is his ability to hit the hole at full speed. While he doesn’t have game breaking speed, his ability to reach top speed very quickly is definitely intriguing. This alone separates Patterson from some other backs in the draft. His vision is very, very impressive. Patterson finds the hole at lightning speed, and sometimes predetermines where the hole will end up and cut back into it. As a player who normally runs between the tackles, this is very important. Patterson’s ability to fight for extra yards makes him one of the best short yardage runners in college football. There were a number of times where it seemed like he was tackled, and managed to get another two to three yards.
Patterson played at Buffalo, where he didn’t face much NFL level competition. Like many players, this draws concerns on how he will compete against better players. This isn’t a huge concern, as he does have the intangibles to be a solid NFL player, just not as consistently as at the college level. Pass protection is the biggest flaw in his game. At times he just looked lost, not knowing where the blitz was coming from, or where there would be a leak in protection from the offensive line. The times when he did pick up a defender, he would just throw a shoulder into him. Patterson was seen blocking on some run plays for other runners, and did a better job so it could just be his pass protection that bothers him. At Buffalo, Patterson was used a lot and in the same way. Over his career he had 636 carries and just 20 receptions. A large majority of those carries were also between the tackles. This is very concerning, as that means Patterson has a lot of wear and tear on his body as well as being very inexperienced in the pass game.
The hardest part of this Patterson evaluation was finding a comparison for him, as his play style is so unique. Like Ingram, they are both smaller backs who love to run in between the tackles. Very rarely do you see Ingram run outside the tackles, unless he bounces it outside, and both players can make players miss if needed. Patterson does have slightly better vision, but Ingram is a better receiver compared to Patterson. Both players are also complementary backs as you saw with Ingram in New Orleans with Alvin Kamara or in Baltimore with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.
Patterson was one of the most consistent players in college football during his time at Buffalo. He is a downhill runner who excels in between the tackles and finding the hole. There were plenty of times when Patterson found the hole quickly and got a big gain because of it. That being said, with his lack of competition and being a liability in the pass game, he is very one dimensional. In the NFL, Patterson will be a good complementary back who should hear his name called early on day three of the draft.