With Kyle Hamilton and Kyren Williams finished and in the books, we quickly turn to the next man up in the Notre Dame offensive line pipeline. Two year starting center Jarrett Patterson has ascended to be considered amongst the top interior offensive lineman in all of college football.

Even with his potential transition to offensive guard this season, Patterson profiles as one of the top centers in the 2022 NFL Draft class. With 21 starts under his belt, it’s time to put the redshirt junior to be under the microscope.

TALENTED OFFENSIVE TACKLE TO MAN IN THE MIDDLE

A part of a 51-4 run for Mission Viejo, offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson was ranked between three and four star status by most major recruiting outlets. With plenty of interest from West Coast programs (UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, etc), Patterson opted for the proud tradition that Notre Dame had established on the offensive line over the years, coupled with the academic prowess.

Patterson, an offensive tackle recruit originally, backed up at left tackle as a true freshman while he sat for a redshirt. Instead of continuing that course of action, the Irish opted to make the move inside, setting Patterson up as the starting center in 2019 in hopes of getting the “best five” on the field.

That transition was a massive success.

Even with limited experience, Patterson quickly settled and emerged as one of the top young centers in college football. Heading into 2020, his second year in the starting lineup, ascension as one of the top interior lineman was in the works. Despite a foot injury that cost him the latter stages of the year, Patterson experienced a huge bump in play.

Now, heading into 2021, another transition may be in the works. Early indications are the team may be toying with the idea of moving him into guard with the emergence of redshirt sophomore center Zeke Correll down the stretch.

Whether that move is a full go remains to be seen.

Regardless, Patterson could stake claim as one of the more talented interior offensive lineman in the 2022 NFL Draft class if he chooses to declare.

THE EYE IN THE SKY

Boasting a prototypical frame for an NFL center, Patterson brings scheme versatility to the next level that both heavy inside zone, outside zone and gap power teams alike will find interest in.

With heavy experience running inside zone, Patterson does a nice job working combos to the second level.

He is a smooth mover who wastes little effort working to the second level. Patterson has some natural power in his hips that should only improve as he continues to physically develop.

Navigating space is a strength for Patterson. He brings some notable movement skills, working to the second level on his track effectively.

Even when he gets a little overextended, his range (combining movement skills with length) helps him to cover a ton of ground and find landmarks. Here, he gets enough of former USC linebacker Palaie Gaoteote to spring Irish running back Tony Jones Jr. for a nice gain.

In pass protection, Patterson uses his athleticism, length and offensive tackle background to consistently frame pass rushers.

Once he is able to gain inside position, he is a tough guy to detach from. Given his pass blocking profile, Patterson has a sound argument as the top pass protector at the position to come out of college in several seasons. He puts out a ton of Alex Mack vibes on film.

Working against movement and various blitz looks, Patterson’s patience comes in handy big time. He is a sound communicator who quickly diagnoses pressure pre snap.

Once he locates would be blitzers, Patterson is an eraser for second level defenders. He gets his mitts on the Pitt linebacker and completely overwhelms him at the point of contact. He stays attached, keeps his feet moving and creates a clean pocket-throwing window for Ian Book.

This is a clear trend on film. Even when put into slight recovery mode, Patterson has the requisite movement skills to work laterally upfield.

Here he is able to ride the linebacker past the pocket, again keeping a clear throwing lane for his quarterback. As far as pass protection goes, there is a clean projection for Patterson.

When involved in the screen game, Patterson again shows his notable movement skills to work in space. Here, as a redshirt freshman in 2019, he is able to get out in space and showcase his smooth movement skills.

He eventually locates his target on the flat track about eight yards downfield. Patterson positions his body well for Tony Jones Jr. to work off his butt and again hit paydirt.

While there is still some development for Patterson moving forward, namely a continued physical development to his power profile, you won’t find many more gifted true center prospects in all of college football. With a healthy season, he has every opportunity to contend as the top center off the board.

THE CENTER TO HAVE IN 2022

Early indications are the 2022 NFL Draft interior offensive line class could be amongst the strengths of the cycle. Players like Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), Lecitus Smith (Virginia Tech), Ikem Ekwonu (NC State) and Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) are a few of the early favorites for the group.

Of the true centers, Linderbaum is joined by players like Patterson, Alec Lindstrom (Boston College) and Ricky Stromberg (Arkansas) as the frontrunners early. With some discourse to be had concerning the group through the season, Patterson does have one thing going for them that the others don't ... versatility.

With Patterson’s combination of frame and athleticism, teams are sure to have some interest at both center and guard on the next level. Some may also even toy with the idea of offensive tackle in a pinch. That type of versatility is rare up front.

Even as a starting option at center potentially, Patterson gives you the roster flexibility to backup multiple positions at the next level. The mantra “get your best five on the field” is the epitome of Jarrett Patterson’s game.

This article first appeared on FanNation Irish Breakdown and was syndicated with permission.

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