How does one use Jarrett Patterson? That will be a question Scott Turner is about to find out.
The 5-foot-7 undrafted running back from Buffalo will have higher expectations than most undrafted players. The Washington Football Team only signed him following the 2021 NFL Draft last month.
When looking at his tape for the Bulls, one won't see an undersized scat back, but rather a player with home run speed who just so happens to be small. It's what WFT's Ron Rivera sees when watching the film, not allowing the size to determine his role.
“I was just going to mention a specific player, Darren Sproles," coach Rivera said to the media on Friday. “I had an opportunity to be with Darren in San Diego, and that’s who this man reminds me of.”
As the Chargers defensive coordinator, Rivera watched Sproles compliment the success of Hall of Fame runner LaDainian Tomlinson for four seasons. Although standing just 5'6", Sproles never allowed his size to define his role in the NFL.
Instead, speed was his ally and agility was his friend. It allowed him to spend 15 seasons in the NFL, finding a multitude of success in both the ground game and on special teams.
Although a similar frame, Rivera also sees a similar game in Patterson following the first day of rookie mini camp.
“Yeah he’s small but he’s explosive, he’s dynamic, he’s stout," Rivera said. "He looks like a football player."
Those explosive traits were put on full blast in 2020 for Lance Leipold's offense. Patterson tied the NCAA record most touchdowns in a single game with eight scores against Kent State.
No, your eyes didn't see a typo. Those video game names actually happened last football season.
What might be even more impressive are the three straight seasons of 1,000-yard rushes and double-digit touchdowns.
Where will Patterson fit? Although not the same as Tomlinson/Sproles, Antonio Gibson is expected to be the lead back in 2021. The run game is expected to see growth with the additions of Ereck Flowers, Charles Leno Jr. and second-round pick Sam Cosmi on the offensive line.
J.D. McKissic primarily saw snaps as a pass-catching running back last season, recording the second-most receptions last season with 80. Should Rivera elect to keep three runners, this would bode well in Patterson's favor as the runner first.
Last season, Patterson did not record a catch for the Bulls on the way to a MAC title.
This offseason, Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew spoke of how the culture of WFT would be vital to the team's success. They not only wanted athletic players, but also players with the right attitude — one who have faced adversity.
Patterson is simply a playmaker, no matter his frame. That alone will give him a chance to earn reps for the 2021 season.
“He’s a guy that we’re going to give every opportunity to see if he can make our football team," Rivera said. "I like who he is.”
CONTINUE READING: Washington's Biggest NFL Schedule Challenge: 5 To Close