Let’s get to know what team Michigan will play in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 in Atlanta.
Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press
Shea Patterson said something the other day that caught my attention.
The Michigan junior quarterback said he hadn’t given any thought to whether he would return for his senior season or enter the 2019 NFL draft. He hasn’t thought about it because he’s so darned focused on beating Florida in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29.
Yes, we’re all consumed with the Peach Bowl. Who can think of anything else?
So let me help you out, Shea. Since you won’t get around to thinking about your decision for nearly a month, allow me to dispense some free advice:
Stay in school.
There are only two good reasons I can think of for Patterson to come out early: It’s a weak quarterback class or he might not beat out U-M’s other QBs next year, especially Dylan McCaffrey.
But there are lots of reasons I can think of for him to stay in school.
First, it’s not that weak of a quarterback class. Even if Oregon’s Justin Herbert stays in school, there’s Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Missouri’s Drew Lock, West Virginia’s Will Grier, North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley, and draft-eligible sophomore Dwayne Haskins would have to be crazy to return to Ohio State.
The 2018 quarterback draft class was thought to be strong, and even then only five quarterbacks were drafted in the first two rounds, all in the first round. The first two rounds are crucial because that’s the benchmark the NFL’s College Advisory Committee uses to determine if underclassmen are ready for the pros. If the committee doesn’t judge a player to have at least second-round potential, that is effectively the NFL’s recommendation that a player stay in school.
Nick Baumgardner: Breaking down Shea Patterson’s NFL decision
In this quarterback class, even without Herbert in it, I don’t see Patterson having second-round potential. If the committee agrees with me, that means Patterson could be headed for a fifth-round selection. In 2016 and ’17, the 80 players whom the committee gave stay-in-school recommendations had a fifth-round draft average, with 24 going undrafted.
There’s no shame in sticking around for a senior year. Before the advisory committee changed its process in 2014, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack were essentially told to stay in school. Both were first-round picks the next year and became NFL stars. Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel also was told to stay in school and then became a first-rounder.
Draft status matters in the NFL. A lot. I’ve covered the league long enough to know teams have absolutely no qualms about discarding fifth-round picks. A fifth-round quarterback would be exclusively a developmental prospect, with very little chance of becoming a starter or having much of a career. Heck, a third-rounder would be viewed the same way.
I remember when the Lions picked Central Florida’s Kevin Smith in the third round of the 2008 draft to be their starting running back. At the end of the season, he was talking about trying snowmobiling. I asked him if the team would allow him to do something that dangerous. “I’m a third-rounder,” he said. “They don’t care what happens to me.”
Patterson has decent skills that could translate to the NFL. I like his story of overcoming adversity and his reputation as a leader. His measurables are fine. He’s on the short side at 6 feet 2, but he has good arm strength and mobility.
But there has been no buzz about Patterson’s draft stock this week, even after he was coy while discussing his decision Sunday.
Patterson had a good season, but he wasn’t great against Ohio State. That’s going to be a harsh indictment against him by NFL personnel people. They put a lot of stock in how players do against elite competition.
Patterson would be well served with another year of seasoning at Michigan. That’s another year of learning to read defenses better. Another year of burnishing his credentials as a leader. Another year when he would likely have a much better chance of beating the Buckeyes in the Big House.
Next year, he also would be eligible to play in the Senior Bowl, which would cater to his strengths and allow him to show off his intelligence and leadership and get invaluable face time with NFL coaches.
That’s something the Peach Bowl won’t do for Patterson this season, no matter how much he’s focused on it.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.