Here's an article from a rookie scouting site comparing Patterson and Austin's ability after the catch that's pretty interesting, and I think deserves some debate on here.
It's a bit numbers based, rather than scouting based, because although the numbers in it come from scouting, it doesn't really give a huge amount of context to them: as admitted in the article, the differences between Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin could well be due to usage patterns as much as skill. It also doesn't give context in terms of who the tackles avoided were against - avoiding a tackle against Alabama is obviously more impressive than doing the same against San Jose or something.
But, that being said, the numbers in it are striking. Austin is thought of as a bit more limited, largely due to his size, but also as a major YAC threat due simply to his speed and elusiveness. Patterson on the other hand profiles more as a raw guy who could turn into a true #1 WR. But these numbers indicate that Patterson has all of the elusiveness that Austin has and much more.
I mean, the raw number takeaway from this is that Austin eludes a tackle on roughly 4 of every 5 plays. Patterson, on the other hand, averages eluding almost two tacklers on every play. And he does it using a wide variety of moves. The numbers on the actual moves used are similar between Austin and Patterson (apart from speed and power), but bear in mind Patterson generated those numbers in fewer than half the plays that Austin had.
The issue I'm not sure about is how this projects to the NFL. Given their vaguely similar percentages of pressure cuts, jump cuts, spins and what have you, I think it's fair to argue that there's not really a great difference between their profile of moves in those areas (again, bearing in mind Patterson generated similar numbers on half the plays). The difference in speed and power moves is very interesting though. Obviously Austin is quicker and Patterson is stronger, and this isn't something we didn't know already. But does anyone have any thoughts on which skillset (speed or power) translates better to the NFL?
We all know that, on average, NFL DBs are both stronger and faster than their college counterparts, but do you think the difference in either speed or strength from college to the NFL would effectively remove one of these movesets? Would Austin still be able to run away from NFL DBs, but Patterson would not longer be able to overpower them? Or would Patterson still be able to overpower DBs, but Austin could no longer have the speed advantage to run right past them?
I think the conclusion I've drawn from this is that previously, I thought of Austin as more of a slot YAC guy who also had the deep speed to play as a perimeter receiver and deep threat, whereas Patterson was more of the raw guy who maybe couldn't do much now, but could be a proper #1 WR in the mold of Andre Johnson
in the future. However, this seems to indicate that not only could Patterson have higher upside given his size and skillset, he's also already better than Austin as a YAC threat.
Have we as Rams
fans missed something here? Austin has previously been thought of as the YAC guy, while Patterson is the more traditional WR guy. But is Patterson the better NFL YAC threat than Austin?
Another minor thing to note, if you look at the kinds of plays excluded, Austin has many interior runs (which is worthy of note, he can line up well in the backfield), but Patterson has a large number of sideline catches, which seems to be another indicator that he could be an all-around WR, who just happens to have great YAC skills.