INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts have had a ton of recent success in the NFL Draft when it comes to unearthing gems in the seventh round.
Since 2009, the Colts have selected the likes of Matthew Adams, Austin Blythe, Kavell Conner, Zaire Franklin, Denzelle Good, Ulrick John, Ricardo Mathews, Pat McAfee and Kerwynn Williams; all of whom have gone on to play extensively either for the Colts or elsewhere.
With their final pick in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Colts used the 246th-overall selection on Ole Miss offensive lineman Javon Patterson. Will he, along with fellow 2019 seventh-rounder Jackson Barton, continue the Colts' good fortune of seventh-round picks?
Patterson comes to the NFL with quite a bit of experience and versatility that he displayed with the Rebels. He started half of the time during his true freshman year in 2015 and then all 36 games since then.
He saw action at all three interior line positions, starting 33 games at left guard, six at right guard and three at center. The Colts currently consider him a center.
"Yeah, just coming in as a center, interior guy competing for the spot," Patterson told reporters after being drafted. "That's the main thing that Coach (Chris) Strausser and the GM (Chris Ballard) told me."
Off the field, Patterson has been just as dependable. He was on the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List in each of the last two years, which is the premier award for community service in college football. He was also on the SEC Student-Athlete Leadership Council in 2017, as well as the SEC Community Service Team and was an AFCA Good Works Team Nominee.
He even graduated high school early to enroll at Ole Miss as a five-star recruit. He was considered the No. 32-overall national prospect and No. 1 guard by 247Sports.
"The last four years, man, I have been a great leader. I started off my sophomore year being a leader. After my freshman year after taking over with Laremy (Tunsil) and those guys. My sophomore season, me and three other guys and Greg Little kind of became leaders of the offensive line," Patterson said when asked about what role leadership plays in his presence as a teammate. "I have established that and it has been great. I am hoping to take that to Indianapolis with me."
Patterson has a great physical build for any interior line position at 6-3 and 307 pounds. However, his shorter arms — 32 ½-inch arms and 78 ¼-inch wingspan are both less than the 20th percentile among offensive linemen — are one big reason many projected him as a center in the pros.
Despite his arm length, Patterson uses them as well as he can, extending them to keep oncoming defenders at a distance.
Patterson's strength and physicality certainly fits the bill for being an interior linemen. However, the Colts' offensive line takes it a step further.
"I love that mentality, man," Patterson said about the aggressiveness of the Colts' line. "I think when you have a group of guys that have that contagious energy, you can be very dangerous and I am excited to go join that group of guys, man."
Patterson displays good upper-body strength to push defenders where he wants them, and he can drive rushers off course while in in pass protection.
He can also get low, displaying an accurate and effective cut block to take defenders to the ground and out of contention from making a play on the ball.
But what might stick out the most when watching Patterson's film is his mobility. He moves really well and is used quite a bit on pull blocks. He can get out in front of his runner on off-tackle plays as well as outside runs. He's accurate in placing his blocks on the move, often laying them squarely in front of the defender.
Patterson is also used to blocking for quarterbacks like Chad Kelly, Shea Patterson and Jordan Ta'amu who can escape the pocket and make plays with their legs or buy time for receivers to get open, just like Colts quarterback Andrew Luck does.
"I bring the physicality and the mental. Throughout college I was a durable player. I was able to play all four years," Patterson said. "I think my biggest thing is being quick and powerful so I think I will use that to my advantage."
Patterson has the benefit of plenty of experience against tough, pro-style defenses in the SEC, but he still has some areas for growth.
Opponents tend to get past Patterson through his inside shoulder. It's typically against defenders who gets a good jump off the line. If Patterson can be a little quicker to react to that and have a wider base, then he could help counter those types of players.
With the Colts, Patterson will also quickly learn to become an equal-opportunity blocker. Don't have a man to block? Team up with one of your linemates and take their guy out.
Although Patterson has plenty of power, he could really develop a nasty streak by becoming someone who locks up the defender with the strength in his hands and drives them down. He shows a strong punch right now, but doesn't always snatch and finish off his man.
The rookie has the benefit of learning from one of the league's top centers in Ryan Kelly as well as a talented group of players who we've seen play along the interior line in Josh Andrews, Evan Boehm, Mark Glowinski and Joe Haeg.
"Yeah, I plan on watching the veterans, man," Patterson said. "I think that's the biggest key of getting chemistry together with that team, is being able to learn after the veterans – guys that have been there and done that, you know?"
While the Colts waited until the seventh round of this year's draft to add depth to the offensive line, they certainly got a couple of guys who bring experience and versatility to the table but also want to learn from the veterans in Barton and Patterson.