It is an absolute shame that politics and the decision makers at Louisiana Tech made moves that ultimately left their football on the outside looking in during the bowl season. This is particularly unfortunate for people watching with an interest in the draft, because this was one less opportunity to see ‘General’ Quinton Patton suit up for the Bulldogs. In spite of this, Quinton Patton has had a great year catching 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 TDs. Patton’s productive career has made opposing corners and the Senior Bowl take notice, garnering an early invite to the game in January. Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks said of Patton "...Quinton Patton is the best receiver I've played against since I've been here. I've gone against some good ones in the SEC, too, but he's probably the most complete." From a technical standpoint and just knowing how to play the receiver position, Patton is not far off from being a complete receiver and can contribute early in the NFL at least as a #2 or #3 wide receiver. His physical tools are not going to overwhelm anyone, but his 6'2" 195lb frame and average speed should not detract from him either. Patton should be competing for a spot somewhere on day two of the draft, but because of the importance placed on potential and physical tools, he could slip a little further and give a team a nice value player that makes people come back and ask how they missed such a good player.
Quinton Patton is an incredibly polished receiver. He is so impressive at doing the little things well that make a good receiver great. From his stance to his explosive first step to how far advanced he is in setting up defenders with his route running is makes him look the part of a professional receiver and appears ready to contribute in the NFL immediately. All of that stands out when watching him play and that could make him successful in the NFL, but most of all is how competitive he is and that element of his personality could make him special at the next level.
Physically, Quinton Patton is built well and reasonably agile, but his speed does not stand out much though his acceleration is good. He is good enough at the science of being a receiver that if he comes out and puts up great times on the track, it is a huge bonus, but on the tape, his speed appears average. His ability after the catch shows impressive instincts and making good use of the physical talent he has, but it is more a testament to his overwhelming competitiveness than his physical ability when he makes big plays after the catch. He could stand to continue adding bulk to his frame.
Patton has good, reliable hands on the routes he should. He has a wide catch radius and can go up and catch passes at their highest point and has consistently shown the ability to do so in traffic. His concentration when catching the ball in traffic is above average whether it is a jump ball situation, going low for passes, or catching passes when he knows he will take a shot. He has made a lot of difficult catches, but this is where he needs to continue working when it comes to his hands. In games such as Illinois and Texas A&M, he really dominated and did a great job with these types of passes. He had some issues against Utah State and that was easily his worst game in this area and really highlighted the need to continue working. He does a good job of getting his body in position to shield out defenders trying to make a play on the ball. His best asset with his hands is how he transitions from pass catcher to ball carrier with how smoothly he transfers the ball from his hands to his body.
Patton’s route running is excellent. He has crisp footwork, good cuts for the most part and is efficient with his economy of movement to shorten his routes as much as possible. He is so far beyond just figuring out the best way to get from Point A to Point B. Instead, he is playing a game with opposing defensive backs and keeping them off balance. He is not just good, but he is smart. He will sell a block and making the defensive think run before getting behind him on the goal line to get an easy touchdown. He is able to set up defensive backs so he can get open going deep on posts and fades as well as open up space underneath to catch comebacks and hitches. He does a great job of setting his feet and his body so that when he catches the ball, he is already poised to make a move to gain more yards and there are numerous examples of when he beats defenders with agility because he is already making a move before the ball has even gotten into his hands. This is a testament to his concentration and his attention to detail for the position. The total package of what Patton is capable of was on display in his prolific game against Texas A&M.
As a runner after the catch, Patton is agile, displaying effective short area quickness. He can make guys miss, especially with his ability to set up moves as he is catching the ball. His balance and body control are impressive and he does a great job of not only going up and catching the ball at its highest point, but landing so he can continue gaining yards. He is also a threat to get extra yards after a drag route or a slant.
The competitiveness and attention to detail is also evident when it comes to Patton as a blocker. He is not satisfied to get in the way; he is looking to hurt feelings too. Patton is aggressive and keeps blocking to the whistle. He shows good hand use and keeps his feet underneath him with good balance. He will not only turn a defender away from the runner but look to put him into the bleachers.
One oddity when it comes to Patton is that he plays basically exclusively on the right side of the formation. That could be just part of the design of the Louisiana Tech offense, but it is a little curious. One of the things to keep an eye on will be how he is utilized in the Senior Bowl and if the coaches there move him around just to see how he reacts.
Patton's game resembles that of current New England Patriot Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd is not a big receiver and not terribly fast, but like Patton, he just seems to play the position well and has been very productive as a result. Both Patton and Lloyd are throwback players in that respect and will tend to sneak up on people who are not paying attention how productive they are. Both are players that tend to get underrated and under appreciated with people refusing to accept they are good players.
Because of the depth at the wide receiver position in that late first round to the third round, the wide receiver prospects will have to find a way to separate from the rest of the pack. The Senior Bowl is a big opportunity for Patton who will be on the field side by side with a number of other top receiver prospects and if he shows well there and interviews well, he could make a big move up draft boards. Quinton Patton’s intangibles are what make him stand apart: His polish, professionalism, intelligence, and instincts for the position as well as his competitiveness are impressive but may not 'wow' casual onlookers. He could get picked earlier than people expect to a team like the Patriots who value these qualities, but virtually every question Patton has to answer in the pre-draft process will about his physical talents rather than how well he plays the position. If teams are not sold on his physical ability in the NFL, Patton could still be sitting there on day three and the team that picks him will get a tremendous value on someone that can play now and contribute as a #2 or #3 receiver that can move the chains and contribute in the red zone. Patton may not have the ideal speed teams would like to see, but his physical tools are enough and Patton just finds ways to make plays. He is the type of player you hate to bet against and comes off as someone who will make every team pay for passing on him in the draft.
Texas A&M 2012
Utah State 2012
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