Right now, there are two players at the top of people's minds when it comes to receivers in the first round. Those two players are Tavon Austin of West Virginia University and Corrdarrelle Patterson of Tennessee. Both of these players will give the team that they go to plenty of ways to use them whether it be in the run game, pass game, or the return game. If the Rams were to be able to pick either of these players I'm imagining there would be plenty of happy fans in fascination of the contribution they will make in the upcoming season and beyond. But then we have to ask ourselves, which player will be better in the in the immediate and future. It is my opinion that Austin is a better prospect than Patterson for the most part and this is my argument for it. While I will try to persuade you, I will also give both sides of the argument and defend my position so this post should be well rounded. Enjoy..
If you're a Cordarrelle Patterson fan, the biggest thing you are banging your chest about when considering the prospect of getting Austin, is his size or lack thereof. According to ESPN, Austin comes in at a whopping 5'8 and only 173 pounds. This scares some people because this brings up whether he could stand up consistently to the physicality and punishment that he will have to withstand week in and week out. Some have even brought up the fact that he has been nicked up during his WVU career (Although never missing a game) as a reason to not pick him up, I mean how can you stand up to the tough NFC West if you're getting nicked up already in college? Cordarelle on the other hand is 6'3 and 205 pounds which seems like more than adequate measurables to stand up to mighty NFL. I will in turn point to the fact that Austin has never missed a game in his years of playing football nor has he ever been seriously injured. Austin plays smart, although he is a jukester, he knows when to try to get more yards and when to go down or go out of bounds. Also, his fans might point out the fact that Wes Welker is only one inch taller than Austin 12 pounds heavier. I would figure he could add more weight if need seeing as how dedicated to the game that he is.
Next, we come to the production aspect of this argument and it heavily benefits the Austin fans. Many might point to the fact that the Big 12 is not very well known for their defense or lack there of, but if you watched WVU games you could see how he just took over games at certain times. This was seen on the big stage when he straight gashed the Sooners in their meeting this past season (will post the video below).You could, without a doubt, see that Austin was the playmaker for that offense with him and Geno Smith forming a great rapport. Here's the stats:
Austin beats him in every category mentioned above and it's not even close. He more than doubles him in receptions, almost doubles in yards and more than doubles him in Touchdowns, but lets take this even further. Some have said that despite this disparity in stats between these two players that it doesn't matter. Furthermore, they say despite these facts, Patterson was the main guy on his team, but this is not true, either. Just check for your own eyes:
I'm not even worried about the yards because yards can be deceiving, but the catches are what I'm focused on. The catches in general who the Quarterback trusts the most. Hunter almost has double the catches as his counterpart and from some of the games that I caught this past season, Hunter was without a doubt Bray's go to guy. So I ask you, if you want a big receiver, why isn't there more hype around Hunter because stats and game watching shows Hunter is better.
After that, the inevitable reasoning comes for Patterson and that's the fact that his potential is great. I have no comeback for this specifically because it is, but it gets problematic from there on. Austin, right now, seems to be the safe bet and he still can improve. Lets put it this way, from day one Austin can step in, in the slot receiver position. Not only can he step in and start, but he can make a great contribution with his speed, ability to catch the ball, and run after the catch. The problem with Patterson for me is he is so raw, he doesn't project to be a player that will be able to contribute from the outside very much from day one. This was echoed from McShay himself when speaking of Patterson:
"My concern is, at least in the first two or three years of his career, we’re going to have to be constantly labouring to find ways to get the ball in this guy’s hands and to simplify things so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed and short circuited trying to digest an entire NFL playbook when he has so little experience at the big time college level, doesn’t really understand running routes and reading coverages and all those little things."
Patterson, in general, needs to go to a team where he can learn behind a vet to learn the ropes. That team for me doesn't seem to be the Rams whatsoever. Last, but not least (on the particular topic), Austin is not completely limited to the slot position, even from day one.
Next, I wish to bring up the fact that people like Patterson just because of his potential. When you look at it from a distance, you have one fact, Austin is just better than Patterson. Besides his size, Austin beats Patterson in everything. Whether it be Stats, catching ability, speed, route running... everything! So, if your basing your whole outlook on Patterson in his potential and size, doesn't that sound too risky to anyone else? That would mean to me that Patterson as a prospect is as big of a boom or bust prospect as you can get . At the very best he can be a great receiver, but his floor is a good kick returner..... for a first round pick. Austin, on the other hand, floor is a good slot receiver in the NFL which is exactly what we need. His Ceiling on the other hand is a better version of Wes Welker which I'm guessing Sam would appreciate. My opinion on the comparison, was once again backed by McShay:
"To me Austin is so much more polished and provides so much more in terms of what you can do getting the ball in his hands."
Patterson could be a hell of a receiver and I will never deny it, but I come to the exact same question, is he worth the risk? My answer would be an emphatic, no. When a receiver's main problems come with catching the ball, running routes, and not good at reading routes, you are basically drafting a project in the top 20 that essentially doesn't even know how to play the position? To me, drafting him is just drafting an athlete that happens to play the position and hoping for the best.
The final thing that I will say is we have to consider Tavon's experience here. Austin consistently put up numbers with back to back 1000 yard and 8+ Touchdown seasons. Patterson, on the other hand, had only one season of football where he was off and on for most of the season. Showed he could be great, but he didn't show you the talent every game as Austin did. Austin, in other words, would be a heck of a lot safer pick in the first round due to this.
As I've said above, I will not deny that Patterson has the potential to be a great receiver, but I don't want the Rams taking that big of a risk. Tavon will have to go to a team that doesn't throw him to the wolves right away and somewhere he can learn. I would suggest the Texans, Denver, or Atlanta.
So, what do you think? Who would you rather the Rams select, Austin or Patterson?
And as promised, here's the video of Austin vs Oklahoma:
Tavon's Night (Tavon Austin vs. Oklahoma 2012 Highlights) (via dougitydog)