Rookie Rundown: RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo

Rookie Rundown: RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo

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Rookie Rundown: RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo

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Jaret Patterson comes out as a junior after running all over the Mid-American conference for three years. He topped out as a sophomore when he rushed for 1,799 yards on 312 carries as the workhorse for Buffalo. In full disclosure, the Bulls use a run-heavy attack that totaled 566 carries in 13 games against only 150 passes in 2019.

Patterson was on a pace to rush 306 times for 2,323 yards and 41 touchdowns in the COVID-19 season that was cancelled after six games instead of the normal 13. Those eye-popping stats would have helped his draft stock and countered the notion that he played against an easier schedule. Even with the lofty numbers, they happened in the MAC conference and in an offense that literally employed two full-time backs.

The Buffalo Bulls produced LB Khalil Mack, but the six other ex-Bulls on 2021 rosters are all depth players. But the MAC does occasionally turn in an NFL-quality fantasy starters like Kareem Hunt (Toledo 2017), Antonio Brown (Central Michigan 2010), and Kenny Golladay (Northern Illinois (2017). The conference hasn’t produced many NFL stars, but it has delivered enough to make Patterson worth considering. His production was record-setting for the school and could have been astounding given the pace he had in 2020 before the season was cancelled.

Height: 5-6 1/2
Weight: 195 pounds
40 time: 4.5

Buffalo had their Pro Day on March 18 and Patterson may have boosted his draft stock by running a 4.5/450-time and showing an ability to catch the ball. There is no question about his rushing abilities. To his disadvantage, he was measured at 5-foot-6 1/2 and 195 pounds which is small for an every-down back in the NFL. But he was also expected to run a 4.6/40 so his speed is a value helper.

Patterson was lightly recruited coming out of high school because of his size but ended with a record 52 career touchdowns. His 1,799 rush yards in 2019 were also a single-season record for the school.

Jaret Patterson Buffalo stats (2018-20)

Year Games Runs Yards Avg. TD Catch Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2018 13 183 1013 5.5 14 7 62 0 1075 14
2019 13 312 1799 5.8 19 13 209 1 2008 20
2020 6 141 1072 7.6 19 0 0 0 1072 19

Pros

  • Led the NCAA in 2020 with 178.7 rushing yards per game.
  • Effective between the tackles and through congestion
  • Hasn’t lost a fumble since his freshman year
  • Usually gets more than what is blocked
  • Good balance after contact
  • Elusive runner and smaller size gets lost in traffic for defense
  • Tough, physical runner
  • Underestimated and yet always delivered over expectations
  • Adequate to good receiving skills
  • Versatile with overall skills that can fit differing roles

Cons

  • Compensating for size easier in the MAC than the NFL
  • Primary rusher but sized more like a third-down back
  • Lacks extra gear when in the open
  • Tougher in NFL to remain a bruiser

Fantasy outlook

Patterson projects to be a Day 3 draft pick that could end up as deep as a seventh-round selection thanks to his size and background. He’ll likely end up as running back depth and have to earn a spot as a No. 2 back over time. In a league where injuries and quickly accelerate running backs up the depth chart, he has fantasy potential.

The challenge in projecting Patterson is that he’s built like a third-down back but only caught 20 passes in college. His production was all about his ability to produce rushing yardage up the middle and in traffic where he was outstanding – in the MAC.

If Patterson came from a more prestigious conference and was just a few inches taller and maybe 15 pounds heavier, he’d be an early pick. He’s one to watch and evaluate based on the depth chart where he lands. He’s dropped in the draft because of his smaller size and lesser level of competition. Exactly like he has been all his life. And yet he’s always crushed expectations and cannot be counted out as a surprise in the NFL.

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