INDIANAPOLIS — You hear the term "height/weight/speed guy" a lot when people discuss NFL Draft prospects, and the Indianapolis Colts selected someone recently who fits the description late in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Washington State wide receiver Dezmon Patmon heard his name called by the Colts near the end of the sixth round of the draft, becoming the 212th-overall pick.
Patmon was an intriguing late-round prospect, measuring in at 6'3-3/4" and 225 pounds, with 32-3/4" arms and 10-1/4" hands at the Combine — all above-average measurements for the receiver position — and posting really nice scores with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, a 36-inch vertical and 132-inch broad jump.
Those measurements and scores perfectly exemplify a big-bodied receiver with explosive athletic ability, and his closest NFL player comparison with those measurements and athletic scores is a name that Colts fans are familiar with: Zach Pascal.
In four years at Washington State, Patmon got plenty used to catching passes from NFL-caliber talent, as he played with quarterbacks Luke Falk (2018 sixth-round pick), Gardner Minshew II (2019 sixth-round pick) and Anthony Gordon (2020 priority undrafted free agent).
Patmon started 12-of-43 games and caught 156 passes for 1,976 yards (12.7 avg.) and 13 touchdowns, including a steak in which he logged a reception in 33 consecutive games.
He was very efficient as well, as 40 of the 58 receptions he had in 2019 resulted in either a first down or touchdown.
Projecting to the NFL, Patmon's definitely got some tools to work with.
He has quick feet and can create separation off of the line with his speed included when he's running downfield routes. He could use his hands more often to battle with cornerbacks, though, which would make him even more of a handful to deal with.
The route tree that Patmon ran in college didn't appear to be all that diverse, with the Cougars being a quick-strike system. As a route runner, he'll want to keep working on the hip flexibility that many other big receivers utilize to make quick, crisp cuts in his short and intermediate routes, an area in which Patmon acknowledged to reporters after his selection by the Colts.
"I'm just a bigger guy, so maybe getting in and out of breaks faster and just quicker feet," Patmon said as to some areas he'd like to improve. "There's always stuff to work on but probably just polishing up my routes."
Patmon tracks the ball well downfield and will go up and high-point it. He'll want to keep working on his consistency hauling in those passes, however, as he's clearly got good hands, but will suffer from the occasional "concentration drop."
He keeps his head on a swivel after the catch and follows his blocks if they're there. He is strong and lowers his shoulder into defenders, and can shrug of fweak tackle attempts.
A nice additional part of Patmon's game is that he is a powerful, effective blocker. It's not uncommon to see him rock the defender back, and he's persistent in blocking downfield when his teammates have the ball in their hands.
Overall, Patmon is still a work in progress and is learning to use his size and strength to its highest ability.
"My coach would always say, 'Play big.' Towards the end of my career I progressively got better and kind of realized my true size and strength," Patmon explained. "So I think that's apparent in my tape. Just being able to outmuscle and out-physical guys. As simple as it is, just playing bigger really. So, I definitely think I've got better at that over the years. But there's still room for development. So, I'm ready to develop at the next level."
As is the case with Patmon, big receivers with speed and explosion often lack change-of-direction mobility and overall agility, which can be too much of a blow to their scouting report in some instances.
A perfect example is 2019 second-round draft pick D.K. Metcalf. He is a huge receiver who had an awesome workout at the Combine, but he struggled with the agility drills. He was passed over in the draft until the end of Round 2, and went on to finish in the top three among rookies in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by season's end.
If teams can find what guys can do for them and emphasize it rather than tearing them down for what they struggle to do, then they can have a real weapon on their hands. If a player has strengths, use them.
FIT WITH THE COLTS
Patmon is entering a little bit of a crowded receiver room, but there is an opportunity for him to stick out.
On paper, the Colts are strong at receiver near the top of the depth chart with T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr., but Patmon can make a case for being one of the last couple of guys onto the regular-season 53-man roster. Others currently battling for those spots will include Marcus Johnson, Daurice Fountain, Ashton Dulin and Chad Williams, along with Artavis Scott, Malik Henry, Rodney Adams and DeMichael Harris.
A trend that's promising for a guy like Patmon, however? In each of the last couple of years, we've seen at least one receiver initially listed lower on the depth chart that stars in training camp, works their way up into the lineup and begin to mix in with the first and second-team offense; so the Colts are absolutely have been willing to make room for guys at the wide receiver position who take advantage of their reps.
Patmon is already familiar with the Colts' first pick in the draft, fellow Pac-12 wide receiver Pittman Jr., after the two conducted their pre-draft training together at the same facility. So, pushing each other to succeed won't be anything new that they share.
"Yeah, I think that's pretty cool," Patmon said about joining a young nucleus of playmakers on the Colts' offense. "Two receivers, young guys coming straight out the Pac-12. So I think that will be pretty cool to kind of buildup and establish each other, get each other better. Obviously, we have a great quarterback to do it with. So I'm excited for it."
What you can do on offense is one thing, but when it comes to the Colts, whether or not you play special teams is not only a big deciding factor in if you play on gameday, but if you make the roster entirely. Patmon's background shows that he's got those areas covered, too.
"Yeah, I played three (special teams units)," Patmon commented after the draft. "I played punt return, kick return and kickoffs. So I played in college."
There will be plenty of opportunities during training camp for Patmon to showcase his abilities on offense, whether it's in 1-on-1 drills pitting receivers against defensive backs, or making plays on contested balls during scrimmages.
However, making a strong impression on special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone and the rest of the coaching staff would also be a big deal for him.