Player Profile: Ben Patrick

He started as a second round hopeful that slipped into the second day, then fell just short of becoming irrelevant. Now, he's an Arizona Cardinal. What are his strengths and weaknesses and how can he help?

Ben Patrick was rated as the 62nd best player overall and ended up going 215th.  What happened and why did he slip?

Positives:

Excellent deep speed, terrific hands, and runs crisp routes.  Perfect fit to play tight end in Ken Whisenhunt's system, as one of Whisenhunt's trademarks is to throw to the tight end in the deep seam off of playaction.

After transferring from Duke to Delaware, Patrick nearly matched his production from 2002-2005 in the 2006 season alone (79 catches for 781 yards and two touchdowns in four seasons at Duke vs. 64 receptions for 639 yards and six touchdowns in one season with Delaware).

Great size (6'4", 270) and was one of the biggest tight ends in this draft.

Negatives:

Couldn't break into the line-up on a consistent basis at Duke (15 starts in 31 games) and didn't exactly dominate lesser competition at the Division I-AA level.

Terrific hands, but is inconsistent.  He'll make that "wow" play when it doesn't matter and drop an easy first down with the game on the line.

Needs considerable improvement in his blocking.  For a player at his position under Whisenhunt, that's a bad thing.

Analysis:

You could say that the Cardinals got a first day talent in the seventh round and see something in Patrick that no one else does.  You could also say that there's a reason why 214 selections went by before Arizona snatched him up.  Something that goes beyond sub-standard blocking ability, inconsistent hands, and lack of college production against top-level competition.

I have a feeling that there is a hole right through the middle of this guy that NFL scouts know about but we don't.  I just can't shake the suspicion that when something seems to be too good to be true, it usually is.

The good news is that the Cardinals now have two young tight ends with outstanding size, tremendous potential, and possibly two deadly red zone threats in Patrick and Leonard Pope.  The bad news is that they don't have a proven commodity at the position and have two young tight ends that are raw and struggle at the point of attack.

Then again, Whisenhunt had success as a tight end coach at Pittsburgh.  Perhaps he can do for Patrick and Pope what he did for Mark Breuner and Heath Miller.

And by that, I mean that he and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens will teach them how to block, then never throw in their direction.


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