Throughout the fall at Steelers Depot, we will be highlighting several possible draft prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers may have interest in for the 2023 NFL Draft and their performance during the college football season.
The Fighting Irish held off the California Golden Bears in South Bend this past weekend, winning a close one 24-17. Cal started off with the lead in the second quarter until Notre Dame tied things up in the fourth, taking the lead with just over nine minutes remaining to secure the home victory.
The Irish only threw for 150 yards on the afternoon and added another 147 on the ground. However, the offensive line proved to be the edge in this matchup, being led by LG #55 Jarrett Patterson.
While QB Drew Pyne struggled to find his footing in terms of accuracy early on in this one, Patterson flashed as a pass protector, showcasing a stout anchor and sound technique as he would neutralize the opposing pass rush. On this rep, we see Patterson pick up a blitzing LB, latching onto his chest and does the defender the service of suplexing him into the turf after he attempts to bat the pass at the LOS. Patterson proceeds to finish on top of the LB for the pancake block.
On this pass protection rep, we see Patterson play with a wide stance, having good knee and hip bend to sit in against the rush as he digs his heels in to avoid giving ground. He gets a good punch inside the defender’s torso and mirrors the pass rusher throughout the entire rep, giving the defensive lineman no shot to get any penetration as Pyne finds his man downfield for the score.
We see similar execution of technique by Patterson on Pyne’s final TD pass of the game to #87 Michael Mayer to put the Irish on top, taking an outside step to get leverage on the downed defensive lineman and crashes him down into his teammate. You could argue that Patterson could have gone with the blitzing LB on the rule “inside most dangerous”, but the back does a great job stepping up to get a piece of him as Pyne finds his big-bodied TE over the middle for the go-ahead score.
You could say that Patterson had a hand in all three of the Irish’s touchdowns on the game, providing good pass protection on the two scores above and being that man the running back ran behind on the goal line for the third. On the TD plunge, we see Patterson take an inside step on the 1-technique and double team him with the center. The center falls off the block, but Patterson stays engaged and walks the defender back into the end zone, giving the back a clear hole to leap through the pile for the score.
Notre Dame executed a ton on combo blocks to the second level in this one, and Patterson was often part of the combo the offense ran behind in those situations. He on this inside run play, Patterson and the LT combo block the defensive end until Patterson works off the block to pick up the backer in the gap. You notice he drops his head initially, allowing the defender to spin off the block, but Patterson quickly gets hands on the defender again and walks him backward, eventually putting him on the ground for another pancake after an eight-yard pickup on first down.
Here are a couple more clips from the game showing the Notre Dame rushing attack running right behind Patterson who creates a big surge upfront on the LOS on combo blocks with the LT, controlling the trenches as they push the defensive front backward, to allow the runner to get into the second level of the defense basically untouched.
Overall, it was a stellar outing for Patterson against Cal both as a run blocker as well as a pass protector. It may have been difficult to notice his quality play given the inconsistencies of the Notre Dame offense, but Patterson proved to be exceptional in both areas, winning the LOS on the ground game while also stifling the opposing pass rush as an anchor on the inside.
The 6’4, 310lb redshirt senior is a four-year starter and team captain, having started 34 games at center but has moved to guard in 2022 after missing time in spring ball due to a torn pec that he has since fully recovered from. Having been an offensive tackle as a recruit, this has been Patterson’s first exposure to guard in his football career. Given those circumstances, it’s fair to say that he has excelled in his transition outside from the pivot, showcasing a strong anchor in pass protection along with the size and strength to get a push up the middle in the running game.
He may not be an exceptional athlete for the position, but Patterson more than hits the baseline requirements in this area and combines experience along with steady play to be one of the safer options at interior offensive line in this draft class. Should he continue to fair well at the guard spot this season, Patterson’s draft stock should rise going into the spring as a player that is G/C versatile and likely pro-ready to step in and see starting reps early on in 2023.
What are your thoughts on Jarrett Patterson’s performance against Cal? Do you think he showcased the skillset of a starting-caliber interior offensive lineman in the league? Do you think he should be in-play for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early stages of the draft? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!