Have been catching up on some game tape over the past few days. Iíve finished my reports and grades on Tennessee, host to two of the highest upside receivers in the 2013 class.
Justin Hunter scored 7 touchdowns with a 25.9 yards per reception as a freshman on 2010. He started off the 2011 campaign hotter than any receiver in the nation prior to tearing his ACL in week against Florida. Tough break for such a talented athlete and his return to the field in 2012 was one of the biggest question marks that scouts were out to answer. Justin Hunter
has a slight frame, going about 200 pounds and standing 6í4. Long arms and legs with big hands. I donít expect him to add weight/bulk at the next level, but an NFL weight training program will help his strength and presence on the field enough, so I donít see that being an issue. Hunter can explode off the line with a powerful first 2-3 steps. He is further along than most prospects when it comes to route running. Heís very aware that an effective press corner could out-muscle him any day, thus he has perfected the release with strong jab steps to gain initial separation. Once in the clear at the point of attack, Hunter will be most corners up the field. He tracks the ball very well and attacking the football with body control and effective timing has been a strength of his since his freshman season. If he had a more accurate quarterback at Tennessee, he would have been putting up far better numbers.
Hunterís grade will take a hit in a few areas though. He is not effective after the catch. He is not a guy with a lot of wiggle and he shies from contact. He is a competitive athlete that will go after the ball over the middle, but he rarely fights to break tackles. In addition, Hunter is still raw. Not a lot of game experience in comparison to other prospects. His catching technique varies play-to-play, and he doesnít break back to the ball when running return routes. Hunter is one of the top deep threats in this class, but he wonít offer much as a short and intermediate receiver. I can see him having a similar impact as former Volunteers receiver Robert Meachem has had. Heíll make some coaches drool, but it will be up to him to become a more complete player through hard work.
The player that jumps out to me the most is Cordarelle Patterson
. He spent one year at Tennessee after a couple years in junior college. If there is one receiver capable of breaking in to the top 10, it is Patterson. He possesses top tier physical ability across the board. He is a strong, well developed 6í3/208 pounder that shows the speed/acceleration/agility that no other receiver has in this class. Tough as nails over the middle and with the ball in his hand. He can run by anybody, shake out of tackles, and lower his shoulder to push the pile. Complete package after the catch. Patterson showed flashes of top-tier route running. The ability is there.
At first glance, I was under the impression that Patterson took plays off and seemed rather lackadaisical at times. That could very well be the case, but I believe he may have been overused for the Volunteers. He was used on kick returns and in the rushing game in addition to a lot of motion before the snap, fake reverses, and deep passing routes. His speed and gamebreaking ability was the center of attention of most opposing defenses. Tennessee was very aware of that and sent him all over the field in an effort to divert defenders on plays where he was not given the ball. Patterson is a high effort player though. He tries hard and rarely leaves a yard out on the field. I look at teams in the top 10, and I notice a few that need a Patterson type on their offense. He plays a game similar to Percy Harvin but has more size and more agility. That is a scary combination if he is put in to the right scheme. Teams like the Jaguars (#2), Bills (#8), and Jets (#9) are all starving for playmakers. Patterson may not be a media-darling right now, but turn the tape on and watch how big of an impact he can have.