Jaret Patterson Draft Prospect Profile and Scouting Report

Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson  is profiled leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft

Name: Jaret Patterson

School: University of Buffalo

Year: Jr

Position: Running Back

Height: 5-9

Weight: 195

 

STATS:

 

General Info:

The Glenn Dale (Maryland) product attended St. Vincent Pallotti high school in Laurel, Maryland. He was prolific in his senior year rushing for 2,045 yard and 23 touchdowns, adding 113 yards receiving. In a game against River Baptist, Patterson accounted for 558 total yards: 282 rushing, 54 receiving, 124 kick-off return and 98 interception return.

Despite these numbers, he was only rated a 2-star recruit and received one college offer from the University of Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Jaret’s twin brother James was more heavily recruited and Buffalo took both as a package deal.

In 2018 he was named as the MAC Freshman of the Year as he played in 12 games, rushing for 1,013 yards and 14 touchdowns. Both of these totals broke school records for a freshman running back and his average of 5.5 yards/carry placed him third on the school’s all-time list.

Not content with history as a freshman, 2019 saw Patterson have the best season in school history, rushing for 1799 yards and 19 touchdowns – both of which set school records. Patterson led the MAC in rushing, ranked 5th in the nation in rushing and was voted First Team All-MAC. He had 8 100-yard games and received the Walter Camp National Player of the Week after rushing for a single-game school record of 298 yards and a MAC record 6 touchdowns in the game against Bowling Green. He was also voted Offensive MVP in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl rushing for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns against Charlotte.          

Patterson played in all six of Buffalo’s games in 2020 and finished the pandemic-affected season with 1,072 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. He led the nation in rushing average with 178.7 ypg and tied the FBS all-time record for earliest to reach 1,000 yards in a season in his fifth game. He was also awarded another slew of personal accolades: the Vern Smith Leadership Award (top player in the MAC), MAC Offensive Player of the Year, All-MAC First Team and All-America Second Team.

These numbers are remarkable on their own but can be analyzed further to show that Patterson’s 2020 season was one which is genuinely and truly historic. Paterson broke his own school-record for single game rushing yards against Bowling Green on 18th November with 301 yards, adding four touchdowns. However the following game against Kent State, Paterson made history: rushing for 409 yards and 8 touchdowns. 409 yards is just 18-yards short of Samaje Perine’s all-time FBS single-game rushing yardage record putting Patterson into second place all-time. Furthermore, Patterson’s 8 touchdowns tied Howard Griffiths’ single-game FBS record for touchdowns which had stood alone since 1990 (Illinois v. Southern Illinois). His 710 yards also smashed the 22-year-old record for consecutive games rushing, beating 1998 Heisman Trophy winner and 5th overall pick Ricky Williams’ two-game total of 668 (318 v Rice, 350 v Iowa State). Patterson was pulled from the Kent State game for backup Kevin Marks, who also scored 2 touchdowns and ran for 97 yards. 

Positional Skills:

Strengths:

Granted, scoring a boatload of points in the ‘Wednesday Night Wonderland’ that is the Mid-American Conference may not mean much to the casual NFL fan, but the stats exist because of ability. Listed at 5-9, 195 makes it very easy to stereotype him as a third down back at the NFL level however, Patterson has shown he has much more to his game.

He has just enough burst having been timed in the 4.50s for the 40-yard dash and he is very effective running between the tackles and in tight-spaces inside. He has a low Center of gravity which gives him superb contact balance and agility. His stocky frame means he regularly breaks first contact and finds ways to maneuver through the levels of a defense. He can seriously navigate and isn’t shy on lowering the shoulder and taking contact.

As well as shiftiness inside, the best part of Patterson’s game is his patience and vision from behind the line. He will hesitate and process the defense before cutting into a lane or finding the outside. When he does break free he excels in space and is liable to break through the secondary to make a big-play. His legs are extremely active which when combined with his contact balance, really help him create extra yardage and keep moving forward. His ball-security is a major strength - despite concerns about his running style - he keeps the ball high and tight to his frame.

Without making daring comparisons and bold statements: his game definitely shares some similarities with Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew & Devin Singletary (who was another ‘weaker conference’ stats monster). He has also shown he is well-rounded enough to engage in pass-protection, blocking and contribute catching passes from the backfield.

Weaknesses:

Whether it’s considered a legitimate weakness or not, people will point to the quality of opposition Patterson has faced in the Mid-American but the stats and the tape speak for themselves.

Physically, the two main concerns would be speed and size. Patterson has good short-range burst and lateral movement, however often takes time to get up-to speed. Mentally, he can process quickly and create separation however does not necessarily have the speed to beat defenders in a foot race. Similarly, he is shifty enough but doesn’t have the fleet footwork and moves that are going to light up the highlight packages.

He may lack the physical profile to be considered a do-it-all back in the NFL and his technique could raise questions when in pass-protection and blocking. Furthermore, whilst often projected as a third-down back, his limitations in the passing game may restrict this. He has shown solid hands and ability to catch passes however this was not something he was often asked to do at Buffalo and as such, hasn’t developed his route-running. This doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t contribute, just that he hasn’t yet (much like AJ Dillon at Boston College).

Fit with the Packers

Under General Manager Brian Gutekunst, guessing the Packers’ draft and free-agency intent is a difficult task but with question marks over Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams’ future in Green Bay, it seems inevitable that the Packers will be looking to pick up at least one Running Back in the draft. More than likely this will see a continuation of the ‘backfield-by-committee’ with AJ Dillon, one other and a rookie.

CBSSports.com currently have Patterson ranked as the 6th running back in the class and 86th overall, ahead of Trey Sermon, Chuba Hubbard and Rhamondre Stevenson. In reality this seems optimistic however he has already met with the Bills, Jets, Patriots, Chargers and Titans signaling he is attracting interest. That being said uncertainty exists in other quarters with multiple PFF mock drafts still having him available at Picks 174 and 178 in round 5, which would make him outstanding value.

Perhaps the most intriguing element for the Packers is how versatile Patterson can be within Matt LaFleur’s scheme. He has the requisite mental attributes to be extremely effective in inside and outside-zone schemes, especially in the C gap. The Packers have an outstanding offensive line and Patterson is adept at exploiting gaps but also has the legwork and physicality to run downhill, power concepts. He has more than enough about him to operate as a 3 (or 2) in a committee backfield. The only caveat is that Dillon and Patterson could be a bit too similar in committee, both offering plenty of upside but lacking lightning speed and explosiveness.

Jaret Patterson is one of the most exciting prospects to ever come out of the University of Buffalo – nobody has ever done what he has. He has had a historic career in a conference which produced two Super Bowl winners as recently as the 2019 draft in Sean Murphy-Bunting and Scott Miller (too soon right?). The history of the MAC producing diamonds in the rough is long established though, just ask: Khalil Mack, Randy Moss, Ben Roethlisberger, Kareem Hunt, Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, Corey Davis, Kenny Golladay, T.J. Lang, James Starks and Greg Jennings.

 

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Comments (3)

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 23, 2021 at 05:30 pm

Nice write-up, a very productive and instinctive runner for Buffalo. He is a low third, fourth round guy before the day is done. The MAC/ AAC games are best of the college football week.

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LeeHunter's picture

February 26, 2021 at 02:55 pm

Thanks jannes I appreciate that, glad you like it.

I’m UK based and find most UK NFL fans complain about staying up until 4am on work nights for big NFL games - I do it regularly for games like Ball State v Eastern Michigan, I love the MAC.

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Stroh's picture

February 25, 2021 at 07:20 pm

Very similar size, speed and production as another small school RB the Packers had. The other was a 5th rd pick, but played like he should have been a 2nd or 3rd and was really productive for the Packers. That was Aaron Jones! Neither had much production in the passing game in college either.

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