Patterson Plays Bigger Than His Numbers

The Cleveland Browns have displayed interest in this Ohio State defensive lineman, a space-eater who could plug nicely into Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defensive scheme. Here is the first part of our two-part series on Patterson...

As NFL teams evaluate college players to determine which ones are the best fit for their 2007 rosters, one person that they've got to be seeing as the type of player who would fit in well on any team is Ohio State defensive lineman David Patterson.

Looking at his collegiate career and the role he played in the Buckeye's success during that span, you quickly learn that Patterson is the ultimate team player--versatile, humble, and more concerned about his team's success than getting a chance to stand in the spotlight.

"The thing I'm most proud of is winning two Big Ten championships," Patterson said during his recent interview.  "I'm especially proud of the one this year because it was our first outright Big Ten championship since 1984, so that was very special to me."

The casual fan who simply looks at numbers might not be all that impressed when they look at Patterson's stats in draft guides and online sources. During his 45 game appearances, he's been credited with 46 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 1 pass defended and 1 quarterback pressure.

But the 6-foot-2, 285-pound lineman plays a huge role on every play and is projected as a second-day selection in this year's draft by's NFL Expert Tom Marino. As our Ohio State site noted about Patterson back in November, "his job is to eat up space on running plays and collapse the pocket on passing downs." And that's what David Patterson does consistently throughout a game for his team.

Patterson is the guy that fans may not notice as often as some of the others, but his opponents have to account for him on every play because he just keeps coming at them. The time on the scoreboard clock drains away much faster than Patterson's energy level.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
And he's smart. While at any given moment he may not be the most naturally gifted athlete on the field, he understands the game and studies his opponents down to the smallest details during game week to gain every possible advantage when it's game time.

"Just little things, a guys stance--is he sitting back, formations. You can tell a lot of things from the formations of different teams," he explained. "I'm not sure how much in the pros you can tell, but I know in college a lot of teams' formations give away so much about what they're going to do on offense.

"A lot of the teams we play, like Texas, when their back is near or far in the shotgun, it tells you so much about their offense. Those little tips, as far a defensive tackle or defensive end, let you know how you're going to be blocked. If a team has a tendency to keep their back away from the tight end to run, you might want to tighten down. If they have a tendency to pass, you might want to get a little bit wider in your stance. Those little tips can really help you and give you an edge out there on the field."

Patterson's versatility will be a huge draw for NFL teams who love to have backup players who can capably plug in anywhere on the defensive line.  He's got extensive game experience at both defensive end and defensive tackle.

"At defensive end, I think one thing I can do great is I can play the run. I might not be the fastest guy out there, but I think I've got a good bull rush and I can use my spin pretty well out there," he said.  "I played defensive end my whole junior year, and I would move inside any time we came with our nickel package. My coach really liked me out there, because he liked my ability to play over a tight end.

"At defensive tackle, that's just where I love to play. I can use my quickness; I can use my hands a lot. I really think that suits me the best, but I love playing all over the defensive line."

Looking back on his collegiate career, Patterson knows that he's become a much better player on many fronts. And he believes he's ready to make the transition to the NFL.

"I just think I had some great coaches at Ohio State and I really learned how to play the game of football with better technique--things that have a lot to do with playing, but not as much physical as mental--like learning how to be a little more mentally tough, how to become a better leader, how to study film, what things to look for when studying another opponent and just learning the whole scheme of the defense," he said.  "I thought I played better when I learned the whole scheme of the defense, it helped me execute my job a little better."

To learn more about David Patterson, check out his player profile page. subscribers can enjoy an exclusive NFL Draft Q&A with David on Monday where he talks about his pre-draft visit and workout with a team he'd love to play for, a couple of more accomplishments that are going to make him attractive to NFL teams, and more!

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the network and syndicated through's NFL team pages.

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