Dolphins fans across the country are salivating at the thought of Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson playing for their favorite team.
The junior is one of the most explosive players in the draft, which is one thing that the Dolphins desperately need. The franchise sorely lacked a reliable wide receiver last season, even though starter Brian Hartline passed the century mark for the first time in his career. Despite Hartline's significant yardage total, he only scored one touchdown, which is simply not enough. The Dolphins can change that quickly with the No. 12 selection by selecting Patterson, a receiver that is versatile, dynamic and a homerun hitter.
Selecting Patterson would surely give franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill a weapon that he can rely on, providing the receiver pans out. Most importantly, Patterson would also help improve three areas of the offense and Tannehill's game that are needed.
Middle of the Field
Starting with the middle of the field, it's one area that Tannehill isn't particularly great in. He's always struggled anticipating receivers in this area, which makes him a curious fit in the Dolphins' modified West Coast Offense.
Adding Patterson would make Tannehill a better passer across the middle because Patterson has strong hands and is a big body at 6'3", 205 pounds. Because Patterson is a developing route-runner, he is likely to be put in situations that get him into the open field where he can make plays after the catch.
One example of that came against Missouri (6:30 mark) when he ran a shallow cross. He did this from a reduced split in the boundary, which is defined as the short side of the field in football parlance.
The Volunteers offense was able to get him open with a three man combination concept that slowed down the reaction of the surrounding defenders. This allowed Patterson to get out in front of the defender covering him. Running routes such as these make Patterson an easy target for Tannehill while also making it easy for the receiver to get open.
Moreover, working the middle of the field is a staple of West Coast Offenses, as the majority of the concepts are designed to attack the middle of the field.
If Tannehill is to improve throwing in between the hashes, acquiring Patterson and getting him in the open field would be a great start.
Creating explosive plays is a must in the NFL, as it separates the great from the good. In the Dolphins' case, they were neither last season because they were constrained to the short to intermediate areas of the field due to a lack of outside speed.
Speed, in general, is a great asset to have but it's not necessarily the perfect argument for explosiveness. The real trait that matters is quick feet in the open field and great vision. Patterson possesses both traits, which is why he's one of the most, if not the most, explosive receiver in the draft.
A great instance of the above was against North Carolina State (1:17 mark) in the opening week of college football season. Patterson had six receptions for 93 yards and two rushes for 72 yards. One of the rushes went for a 67-yard touchdown and illustrated sublime vision and agility.
Patterson was lined up a reduced split just outside the formation this time. He motioned inside the formation before the snap prior to taking a handoff on a jet sweep.
When he got the ball in his hands, he made a quick move and then ran to the outside. After stretching the defense laterally, he made a slicing cut by planting his outside foot into the ground and running towards the middle of the field. He crossed the 40-yard line and then continued downfield across the 35-yard line. Finally, he accelerated around the 25-yard line before scoring.
That's explosiveness. And that's what the Dolphins and their quarterback need to take the next step to becoming a playoff team in the coming season.
Versatility in a receiver is always important, especially in Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin's offense.
The offense is predicated on having receivers that can move all across the formation and play different spots, whether it's the X, Y or Z position. When a receiver can also line up in the backfield and take handoffs, it's an added bonus, which is what Patterson did at Tennessee.
Putting Patterson in the backfield makes Tannehill's job easier because he immediately gives the ball to one of his most explosive weapons. Patterson's aforementioned quick feet and vision also become a factor when he lines up at a traditional running back alignment (some coaches call this "home"), where he can carve up defenses and score touchdowns like he did against Missouri (3:58 mark).
Offenses have done a better job in recent years moving around their weapons, as seen with the likes of the New England Patriots' Wes Welker. Welker has lined up at "home" and caught passes. The Patriots have also used H-back Aaron Hernandez in the role, where he's taken handoffs and done damage. The Dolphins can similarly use Patterson in this role if they open their creative minds.
All in all, the Miami Dolphins must become more explosive as a team. They were one of the least explosive last season because they lacked players that could do damage in the open field. That's particularly problematic in their modified West Coast Offense, which is predicated on receivers doing damage after the catch.
If the franchise wants Ryan Tannehill, the face of their franchise, to succeed, he's simply going to need more weapons. Drafting Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson would go a long way in helping that, especially if he develops his route-running with more coaching.
At the moment, Patterson's still raw but with some creativity, he can be an added dimension to the offense in the middle of the field and the backfield.