Career Recap: Under former head coach Hugh Freeze, the Ole Miss Rebels put together a lot of strong recruiting classes that produced a lot of early-round NFL talent. Among those players were Laremy Tunsil, Evan Engram, Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche, Breeland Speaks and more. After Freeze was fired amid scandal, some of his talented recruits remained while others moved on to new homes. Patterson was one of those top recruits, but rather than staying with the Rebels, he moved on to Michigan.
Patterson was expected to be the heir apparent and an upgrade to Chad Kelly after he moved on to the NFL. In 2016 after Kelly went down with a season-ending injury, Patterson completed 55 percent of his passes for 880 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions over his three games.
Last year, the Ole Miss program was reeling from the scandal that got Freeze fired and the entire team seemed to struggle on the field. During the tumultuous season, Patterson completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,259 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions before a season-ending knee injury. After the season, Patterson decided to transfer and landed with Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines.
2018 Season Outlook: Patterson is going to see some good talent during his 2018 season. In Week 1, He will take on a good defense in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They have some NFL prospects on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps, so Patterson would be wise to use his arm rather than exposing himself to a lot of hits from that talented front seven.
In late September, Patterson will take on a salty defense in Northwestern. Two weeks later, the Wisconsin Badgers will be a challenge as they have three NFL linebackers who will life difficult for Patterson. Michigan State and Penn State will also present some challenges.
Of course, the toughest defense he will see all year is probably Ohio State in the regular-season finale. The Buckeyes have a defense filled with NFL players, and Patterson is going to be face a tough pass rush and a secondary that has early-rounders with good coverage skills. Patterson will have to play well in order for Michigan to beat Ohio State.
Skill-Set Summary: The NFL is always on the look out for potential franchise quarterbacks, and Patterson could end up being viewed as that caliber of prospect. He isn't the biggest of quarterbacks, but he has athleticism and a plus arm that gives him the ability to make plays. If Patterson develops his game, he could become a special quarterback. Some NFL sources, have compared to him a stronger-armed version of Johnny Manziel without the off-the-field issues.
As a passer, Patterson has a quality arm and can push the ball vertically downfield. He flashes some accuracy and the ability to make touch passes downfield while also being able to fire a fastball to beat tight windows. Patterson is a good athlete with excellent mobility to dodge sacks and extend plays with his feet. He is dangerous at picking up yards with his feet and improvising on plays to make something out of nothing thanks to his tremendous mobility. Patterson is a gunslinger who excels when plays break down.
There is a lot for Patterson to improve upon in 2018. He has to show more as a pocket passer to help his NFL draft grade. He runs around too much and needs to show more comfort in the pocket. Along with pocket presence, Patterson needs to work through his progressions and improve his field vision. His offense at Ole Miss was very much based off his first read, and far too often, he would look to run when his first read was covered. He won't be able to do that in the NFL, so developing the skills to read the defense and throw the ball to the right receiver are necessities. Right now, Patterson is very much in the mold of Manziel or Baker Mayfield, developing more pocket passing and presence like Deshaun Watson or Marcus Mariota is a must for Patterson to translate to the NFL. It will be interesting to see if working with Harbaugh will help Patterson to become more of a pro-style quarterback.
Infinitely more important than my opinion, is what NFL evaluators think of Patterson. I spoke with two advance scouts who have already studied Patterson for their teams' preseason watch lists. They were split on him, with one liking Patterson and thinking he has potential and the other being very down on him.
Scout One, "Physically, [Patterson]'s more gifted than Baker Mayfield. [Patterson] is a better athlete and pure passer. If he has a big year, I don't see why he couldn't be an early-rounder."
Scout Two, "No, I don't think [Patterson] has early-round potential. Jevan Snead was a 1-year wonder too."
Thus, Patterson has a lot to prove during the 2018 season in order to convince the scouting community that he is worthy of being a top prospect.
2019 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2018 season, Patterson is a bit of an enigma with the makings of a love/hate prospect. Thus, it is too early to have any draft expectations with him.