NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Avery Patterson, S Oregon

2 of 2

October 27, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks cornerback Avery Patterson (21) picks up a fumbled ball in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

PS: Is it true that Dion Jordan quit playing tight end and went to defense because he was tired of you hitting him?

AP: (Laughs) I don’t know if it was necessarily me, but I think it had to do more with his hands more than anything.  It worked out for him in the long run, so it was a good switch for him.

PS: How much better does practicing against your offense make you and prepare you for other teams?

AP: Going against the tempo of our offense is tough and has helped my game, especially because going against say Oregon State that takes forever to line up on the ball.  It’s a lot easier to get lined up and get people situated and be a lot more relaxed and calm whereas going against our offense, you just have to kind of line up and make sure people are in the right spots; just the right spots, period.  You won’t have time to communicate much, so our offense has helped our defense in a great way.

PS: You seem more comfortable in man because you were brought up as a corner.

AP: I actually like to be in zone more and look downhill more and come downhill on a lot of things.  I do love playing man; it’s pretty easy.  It’s just, you go out there, you got him and you take him out of the play.  In zone, it’s fun.  You don’t necessarily have an assignment; just make sure you take care of an area and you can kind of bait quarterbacks to throw into your zone and just come downhill on a lot of things is what I like to do.  I kind of just ran to the ball a lot and I felt like if I ran to the ball as fast as I can, then I would be in the right position to make plays and I got more opportunities to make plays in zone coverage than I did in man coverage because I got to see the field.

PS: That hustle paid off with a couple of tipped interceptions, one of which you took to the house?

AP: Yea, I had one tipped this year that I took back to the house and I had another I had called back from a pass interference from another teammate.  I had a few the year before last when I tore my ACL, so I happened to be in the right place at the right time when I hustled to the ball.

PS: Better man coverage; you or Ifo Ekpre-Olomu?

AP: (Laughs) I mean, I’m not gonna say I’m a better man coverage than him, because he’s one of the best, but I’ve learned a lot from him I’m sure he’s done the same.  We kind of just pick each other’s brains and became a better player.

He’s one of the best though.  Anytime we needed to lock down anybody, I know both of our corners were ready for the task.  We kind of did that towards the later part of the year.  We were playing Arizona and we were getting gassed in the run, so we pretty much put everyone in the box.   And me, Terrance Mitchell and Ifo were just man coverage the entire game pretty much.  And we had 8 people in the box with us three in man and it still didn’t do much.  They were still able to run the ball and get to the next level.

PS: How important are special teams to you, because I’ve seen you do just about everything

AP: They’re really important to me.  You can change the game with special teams and that’s something I’ve tried to do on special teams is change the game.  Anytime I’m on the field, I want to make a game changing play.  Every snap or opportunity you get, you have to take it.  And with a kickoff or punt, that play can change the game whether it’s the other team running back a kickoff return or if your team is blocking the punt or running back the kickoff or making a big play inside their 10 yard line.  Those are game changing plays and help your team out.

PS: How much did it bother you not to get invited to the scouting combine?

AP: It definitely bothered me, but it was just more added motivation to just go out there.  I don’t know how those things are selected or whatnot, but I know I’m one of the best safeties in this class and if you watch the film, I’m making the same amount if not more plays than those highly routed guys.  It’s just more added motivation.  When we all get into camp, we’ll all have the same opportunities to make plays and that’s something I look forward to doing.

PS: Did you watch the coverage of the combine?

AP: I did.  I did watch the coverage, mainly for my teammates and just to see how I stacked up against my competition.

PS: If a team was to ask you what your best game or few was, which would you choose?

AP: I would probably go with either UCLA of this year, Stanford of this year I had a pretty good game even though our team didn’t do as good, but I still had a pretty good that game.  And Arizona State of 2012 were probably my best college games.

PS: Who is the best guy you’ve gone against in your career?

AP:  It would definitely have to be Andrew Luck for a quarterback and for receiver, I would have to say Robert Woods.  He had good routes and he is making a living at the next level as well.

PS: Do you have a preference covering bigger guys or smaller, quicker guys?

AP: It doesn’t really matter, but I have found guarding the bigger guys is actually much easier than guarding quicker, faster Steve Smith types of receivers.

PS: What is your impression of Chip Kelly after playing under him?

AP: Chip is, it’s his way and it’s always gonna be his way.  He’s one of the great X’s and O’s guys I’ve ever been around and a helluva coach.  He gets you really motivated on game day to perform at your best and he takes the little things into consideration.  He’s one of the best coaches I’ve been around and I’ll take a lot of what I learned from him and use it at the next level because it will definitely help from the science aspect of football that a lot of coaches don’t really point out or get to or technique wise.

A lot of people won’t harp on getting to bed real early days in advance or hydration in the middle of the week.  The science is really important to him and peaking for game day.  It has helped Oregon football, definitely.  A lot of teams and a lot of football will catch on to what Oregon and the Eagles are doing.

PS: What has been the difference to Mark Helfrich?

AP: Coach Helf was definitely more of a player’s coach and he can talk to you about pretty much anything and everything you want as a player and as a person.  Chip, I’m not gonna say he’s the worse player coach, but he’s always been about football.  I like that about him, because I want to be the best football player under his coaching, so I mean he’s always been that coach I could come to and talk to about football and be the best player that I can be.

PS: What is the biggest thing you’re trying to improve as you work to go to the next level?

AP: Maintaining and keeping my footwork and hips loose.  Just keeping my footwork at the best possible.  I know we’re not gonna work on technique and defensive back technique, so I’m just keeping my craft and perfecting my craft right now.

PS: What types of outreach did you do while you were at Oregon?

AP: Definitely.  We had a program called O-Heroes that helped work with different places in the community of Eugene.  I tried to get myself out there as much as possible when I wasn’t in school.  Just going to the Boys and Girls Club and trying to help out there or just giving back to the community at Oregon, whether it be at camps and bringing their kids in or something like that.  The O-Heroes definitely helped me be more involved in the community and I loved my time in Eugene.

PS: As you go into the NFL, is there anything you’re passionate in doing along those lines?

AP: I definitely want to help my high school in particular get some better facilities and help my coaches who helped me out a lot.  Help my coaches whose coaching at the JC get some better equipment there.  There are a few things that I want to take care of because those people have taken care of me since I’ve grown up and became a better player.

PS: What are you hoping you can do in the NFL?

AP: I definitely want to play nickel a lot in the NFL.  That’s something I did more as a sophomore and a junior.  That’s something I want to get back to, because the nickel position is a game changing position.  If I’m able to make an impact early on as a nickelback, then that will be a perfect situation for me.

PS: Is there someone, either an assistant or high school that really helped you in your development as a player?

AP: Definitely my dad is one of them, but as far as coaches, I would have to say a former high school and JC coach now by the name of Alonzo Carter who helped me get to where I am now.  Always giving me something to look forward to, giving me the dream of even being a college player, and helping me pursue that dream.  Giving me the feedback from whether it’s coaches from the colleges that I was at when I was there and when I wasn’t there just for getting recruited.  And when I got to college, he gave me feedback on what they thought I should work on, what they thought I should get better at as a person or a player.

PS: You mentioned your dad.  What has been his role in helping to develop as a football player?

AP: Just making sure that I’m there, helping me see that hard work does pay off.  He always wanted me to be the best and he always let me know that I had to put in the extra work to be the best.  I kind of carried that to college when he wasn’t there with me and to put in the work and to know the game.  Those are some of the things that kind of just helped me as I was in college and didn’t have him there; to always get me out there on a Sunday and work on some defensive back drills or something like that.  So, I mean, that mentality has stuck with me.

PS: What is the win during your time that meant the most to you during your time at Oregon?

AP: I’d have to say the Rose Bowl win when I was a sophomore.  That was when I started getting a lot of playing time as a DB.  So, I mean I felt good about that win, especially coming off of two BCS losses.  We hadn’t had the respect that we really wanted, so it was good to finally get that weight off of our shoulders and get a BCS win and be known as an elite, top program for years to come.

PS: Out of all the uniforms that you have gone through, which is your least favorite?

AP: I just, sometimes we do a little too much and we kind of mix and match too many colors; more of a combination more than a jersey per se, because I love all of our jerseys.  Just sometimes, the combination of the helmet and the pants and the jersey and the socks and the cleats don’t always go together.

PS: So, you went to Oregon and you’re telling me that occasionally, Oregon’s uniforms are too flashy?

AP: (Laughs) Yea, I mean I’m not saying our jerseys are bad or anything.  I love our jerseys, but sometimes we did overdo it a little too much and I think a lot of players on the team would agree.

Avery never uses his size as an excuse for anything and it shows on the field.  He just competes and lays it out there on the line and is able to make an impact, both on defense and on special teams.  Despite the lack of an invitation to the scouting combine, he seems poised to help a team and early in his career.  Good luck as he chases after his NFL dream.  Here is my breakdown of Patterson.