The Atlanta Falcons sport the most unproven wide receiver corps in the NFL as we barrel toward the 2022 draft.
The Falcons could add a playmaker to the corps with the No. 8 pick in the first round and the No. 43 selection in the second round, but it will remain an inexperienced unit. With that reality, ATL will lean heavily on running back Cordarrelle Patterson in the passing game.
"Appreciate what CP did for us last year [and] what he's gonna do for us in the future," coach Arthur Smith said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "He's gonna move around at a lot of spots."
Smith unlocked Patterson's talent in his first year in Atlanta. The do-it-all threat rushed 153 times for 618 yards and six TDs, all career highs. He also matched his career high with 52 catches and went for a personal-best 548 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Playing out of the backfield, Patterson proved to be a matchup nightmare for defenses, torching linebackers in coverage and running over defensive backs in space. While he's designated a running back, defenses are forced to consider him a receiver in establishing personnel, given his pass-catching proclivity. Then the Falcons can run over smaller nickel and dime defenses.
At age 30, Patterson finally had a breakout season as an offensive weapon after years of being an All-Pro returner. He re-upped with the Falcons this offseason to remain in Smith's system.
With Marcus Mariota, or perhaps a rookie QB, slated to start under center, it could dent Patterson's upside sans the accurate Matt Ryan throwing all those wheel routes. But given the current state of the receiver corps, Patterson should make up for inconsistent throws with a ton of volume in 2022.