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Given the high-profile nature of the wide receiver position and the media’s overwhelming adoration for gossip, it would be wise to brace for this storyline in training camp this year.
While it is not entirely fair to label it as such or tie these two together like that, there are reasons they will share headlines this summer. It is not as farfetched a story as it may seem.
Since A.J. Jenkins is further down the depth chart (No. 5), it puts him in closest proximity to the incoming Patton. For the LA Tech rookie to climb the ladder, the first person he has to surpass is the 2012 first-rounder.
Outside of the two uncontested starters, Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams have seniority over Jenkins. The fact that Jenkins and Patton were two name picks at wide receiver in back-to-back drafts also narrows down the competition.
As it stands, both Jenkins and Patton are currently at the same junction.
Neither player has a single NFL catch to their name. Moreover, both are striving for field time on a roster laden with accomplished veterans. Early into their pro careers, Jenkins and Patton are essentially blank canvases.
The only stat-based analysis to be had on these two players stems from their days in the NCAA. Since Patton did not join LA Tech till his third year while Jenkins played all four, the following chart lists cumulative totals from their junior and senior campaigns.
It is the fairest and most concise way to juxtapose their output.
College Production vs. College Production
|Name ||G/P ||Rec. ||Yds. ||TD ||YPC
|Jenkins ||26 ||146 ||2,022 ||15 ||13.8
|Patton ||25 ||183 ||2,594 ||24 ||14.1
The takeaway from this is that during a two-year span, Patton played one less game and had roughly a quarter more production.
While there are conferences to take into account—Big Ten versus WAC—it does not make or break the argument. The competition was not terribly lopsided, favoring one player over the year because which school they played for in college.
Jenkins did see more nationally ranked teams than Patton but the results were not always positive.
Jenkins (2010-2011): No. 2 Ohio State (L), No. 11 Michigan State (L), No. 25 Northwestern (W), No. 22 Arizona State (W), No. 19 Penn State (L), No. 22 Michigan (L), No. 15 Wisconsin (L)
Patton (2011-2012): No. 18 (FCS) Central Arkansas (W), No. 15 TCU (L), No. 22 Texas A&M (L)
Additionally, what does not show up here is that Patton almost single-handedly upset the Johnny Manziel-led Aggies. Drawn into a shootout, Patton saw career highs across the board, reeling in 21 balls for 233 yards and four touchdowns.
With Patton, the Bulldogs also pulled off wins against teams like Idaho, Ole Miss, Fresno State, Nevada, Houston, Illinois and Virginia.
In that two-year stretch for both players, Jenkins had 11 games with 50 yards or less, while Patton only dropped below that mark six times. This showed a greater median for Patton who performed at a superior level on a more consistent basis.
Nevertheless, heading into their respective drafts, both Jenkins and Patton had second-round grades (per NFL Draft Scout).
During the pre-draft process, Jenkins (6’0”, 190 lbs.) clocked a 4.37, while Patton (6’0”, 204 lbs.) put down a 4.48. The Illini receiver is a little lighter, but at least converts that lack of size into top-flight speed.
However, in order to be effective in the NFL, Jenkins will need to add weight. The physical demands of the wide receiver position—from releasing at the line of scrimmage to after the catch—dictates a player have strength and a solid build.
If, and when, Jenkins adds weight, will it be at the cost of his speed?