In the NFL, one man’s trash can definitely be another man’s treasure. The San Diego Chargers hope this is the case with cornerback Johnny Patrick, who they claimed off waivers back in February. A third-round pick in 2011, Patrick was already cut by the New Orleans Saints after just two seasons. The fact that Patrick couldn’t get much time on the field or even sustain a job in the worst defense in NFL history is worrisome. However, anyone who’s only 24-years-old and was an early-round pick has to have some talent and should be worth a shot.
General Manager Tom Telesco must have seen something he liked in Patrick, and he’s certainly not the only one. Patrick’s talent, even if not showcased with the Saints, was evident around the league as the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts also put in waiver claims for him.
According to Pro Football Focus, Patrick, like the entire Saints defense, struggled in 2012 and received an overall grade of -8.2 and coverage grade of -8.4. That’s not exactly what you’d like to see from a guy who could be competing for a starting role this season. However, few players can perform at a high level in the NFL if there isn’t adequate help around him. Patrick’s struggles in New Orleans were probably amplified by the poor play around him, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
At Louisville, Patrick was an aggressive, ball-hawking defender who excelled in run support and zone coverage. He showcased great hands to make tough interceptions and good burst to undercut routes. However, he struggled at times in man coverage as he lacked the speed to stick with faster receivers and was burned often by play action and double moves. If he learns to stay disciplined and gets coached up, Patrick has the upside to become a starter in this league.
Selected one pick ahead of fellow corner Shareece Wright in 2011, Patrick will get an opportunity in training camp to push him for the starting job. Like Wright, Patrick is practically unknown at this point, with only one start under his belt. If Patrick fails to unseat Wright for the starting spot, he’ll get a shot to compete for the nickel corner job with rookie Steve Williams. Given the injury histories of Wright and No. 1 corner Derek Cox, Patrick could see a lot of playing time for the Bolts in 2013.