Dimitri Patterson signing raises questions

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
11:40
PM ET
A few thoughts on cornerback Dimitri Patterson signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the New York Jets:

Patterson
1. A head scratcher: In the end, general manager John Idzik preferred a $3 million cornerback with major durability issues over a $3.5 million corner (Antonio Cromartie) who never has missed a game in his career due to injury and already is comfortable in Rex Ryan's system. On the surface, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Idzik is gambling that Patterson can beat the injury bug that cost him 24 games over the last two seasons. Granted, Cromartie didn't play well last season, but he's a scheme fit and his troublesome hip is said to be doing better. He's getting $3.5 million from the Arizona Cardinals, who think he'll be fine.

2. Mr. Inside: Patterson started four games for the Miami Dolphins last season, but his best position is the nickel -- specifically, covering the slot receiver. The Dolphins were thin at corner, so they had to start him. A review of Dolphins tape shows that, early in the season, Patterson started at right corner and slid inside on nickel downs. Said one AFC personnel scout: "He's a borderline starter, but you really want him as your 3. I bet you they draft a guy because he's not a press (coverage) guy in the way Rex likes to press."

3. Projected role: The size of Patterson's contract suggests he will be on the field a lot, starting opposite Dee Milliner or playing in the nickel. Right now, he's the leading candidate to replace Cromartie in the lineup. This won't preclude the Jets from drafting a corner, perhaps in the first two rounds. Remember, Patterson is just a stop-gap. Scouts, Inc. has 15 corners rated in their top 100, so they should be able to find a potential starter in the first three rounds. If they pick a corner early, it could jeopardize Kyle Wilson's roster spot.

4. Nice productivity: Limited to only six games because of a groin injury that hampered him the entire season, Patterson finished with four interceptions (in 228 defensive snaps) -- one more pick than anybody on the Jets. Patterson recorded two interceptions in the opener, although the first was a gift deflection. His best play came against the New England Patriots in the seventh game, when he dropped into a zone from the slot, made a nice read on Tom Brady and stepped in front of Rob Gronkowski to make the interception. Patterson shows nice instincts and ball skills, but he lacks catch-up speed. And, of course, he can't stay healthy.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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