49ers select WR Quinton Patton at No. 128
The 49ers selected wide receiver Quinton Patton with the 128th pick in the NFL Draft.
Louisiana Tech surprised many across the country in 2011, winning seven straight games in October and November, and the Western Athletic Conference title -? the first time they wore that crown since 2001. The Bulldogs lost a close 31-24 game to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl, but during the broadcast, it came to light that Patton and teammate Adrien Cole gave up the $300 Best Buy certificates awarded to them in their bowl prizes to kids participating in the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Add that sort of character to his talent, and it makes scouts very intrigued with his potential as an NFL playmaker and locker room presence.
Patton won first-team all-conference accolades in his first year in Ruston (which is located in north central Louisiana) after catching 79 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 scores. His efforts against San Jose State (five catches, 116 yards, one touchdown) and Nevada (7-162, TD) were instrumental in the Bulldogs? winning their league championship. It was no surprise Patton contributed right away, as several FBS programs had interest in his services coming out of Coffeyville Community College. Not only was he an all-conference receiver as a redshirt sophomore in Junior College in 2010 (687 receiving yards, four TDs), but he also received honors as a punter (39.8 yards per attempt).
Patton and the rest of the Louisiana Tech offense took the nation by storm in 2012. Their up-tempo passing offense racked up huge scores, tons of yardage, and a 9-3 record. Patton starred in the offense, earning first-team All-WAC honors and second-team All-American honors thanks to his 104 catches for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns.
STRENGTHS Good size for the position, has the height and length to play outside at the next level. Very good acceleration off the line, gets to full speed in a couple of steps and can shimmy to free himself and stick his foot in the ground to get inside position on slants. Uses a head fake to get the seam and possesses enough straight-line speed to take advantage of hesitating cornerbacks in off coverage. Fluid, economic mover who does plays under control. Stems to separate with good foot quickness on comebacks and out routes, also extends his arm to create space on short and deep routes. Natural hands catcher – catches the ball with his hands away from his body, even when tracking passes over either shoulder. Wins jump balls in the end zone and over the middle with good vertical and great concentration. Acrobatic and excellent at adjusting to the ball in the air, especially to the back-shoulder on fades. Good sideline awareness to get two feet in-bounds while making the catch. Used on quick throws to take advantage of his shiftiness and surprisingly tough running, lowers his shoulder and is not easy for smaller cornerbacks to drag down after the catch. Sells routes where he knows he?s not the primary target to free up the underneath or cross-field receiver. Shows fight as a run blocker, willing to hit multiple punches to keep his man at bay and works himself into the correct blocking angle. Hustles downfield to help out fellow ballcarriers. Plays with a feisty attitude.
WEAKNESSES Extends his hands from his frame, but doesn?t snatch and secure the ball, making him struggle coming down with the ball when the defensive back contests him. As such, does not always find the ball downfield or come up with catchable passes when adjusting to it in the air. Inconsistent catching punts as a returner, makes some tough grabs running towards the sideline.
NFL COMPARISON Reggie Wayne
BOTTOM LINE A first-team All-WAC pick in 2011 and 2012, Patton accumulated 2,544 yards and 24 touchdowns in his career with the Bulldogs after transferring from Coffeyville Community College. He?s an acrobat along the sideline and a vertical stem threat much, but needs to improve attacking the ball when contested. In his two seasons starting, however, he has showing NFL teams paying close attention that he possesses the hands, route-running skills, and toughness to be a top-64 pick -? and, eventually, a very good starter.
Averaging 51.5 points per game to lead the nation in 2012, it goes without saying that Louisiana Tech featured an explosive offense. While then-head coach Sonny Dykes received plenty of credit (and deservedly so) for the Bulldogs’ gaudy production, his team featured one of the nation’s better quarterback-receiver combinations in seniors Colby Cameron and Patton.
Patton signed with Louisiana Tech after being named Team MVP and first-team all-conference as a wide receiver at Coffeyville Community College, a consistent producer of some of the country’s top junior college prospects. Patton, who also earned second-team all conference honors as a punt returner and even punted himself for the Red Ravens in 2009, caught 50 passes for 687 yards and four touchdowns in his redshirt sophomore season and was recruited by Troy and Minnesota, along with Louisiana Tech.
Once in the Western Athletic Conference, Patton exploded, earning first-team all-conference honors for the second consecutive year by catching 79 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 scores in 2012. Despite his production, Patton reportedly wasn’t highly ranked by NFL scouts entering his senior season but steadily boosted his grade throughout the campaign by proving his production was hardly a fluke, catching 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns on his way to AP All-American recognition.
There is no denying Patton’s statistics were inflated by Dykes’ explosive offense, but the heady receiver’s reliable route-running, soft hands and deceptive speed would have made him a featured target in any scheme. With an impressive performance in all-star games and workouts, Patton could emerge as one of the top senior receiver prospects in the 2013 draft.
STRENGTHS: Possesses an athletic build with long arms. Quick accelerator who gobbles up the cushion. Shows good quickness, strength and competitiveness versus press coverage. Sets up the defender with a variety of releases, alternating his gait to keep his opponent off-balance. Consistently catches the ball with his hands, away from his body.
Experience as a punt returner is obvious once he gets the ball in his hands in the open field. Shows good vision to set up blocks and good shake to elude defenders one on one. May not possess elite breakaway speed but has the burst to turn a short pass into a long gain. Tracks the ball very well over his shoulder, showing excellent body control to keep his feet in bounds while securing the pass. Alert, competitive downfield blocker.
WEAKNESSES: Does not appear to possess elite breakaway speed. Struggles to gain separation on deep passes and while a very good route-runner, doesn’t possess true explosiveness out of his breaks. Isn’t afraid to mix it up with defenders as he runs his routes and will push-off on occasion to help gain separation, drawing the rare offensive pass interference flag (Texas A&M).
Possesses generally reliable hands but will drop an occasional pass, especially when defenders are battling with him. Must get stronger and improve his concentration to make the tough grabs with defenders ripping away at his arms as the ball arrives. Can make defenders miss but doesn’t show much strength to run through arm tackles.
COMPARES TO: Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans — Scouts had questions about Washington’s readiness for the NFL when he left Tiffin, but like Patton he has used his savvy and deceptive athleticism to develop as a quality NFL starter.