Undrafted running back Jaret Patterson is not the biggest guy on the football field. In fact, at just around 5'6 1/2", he may be the smallest.
Yet his tape from his time at the University of Buffalo has shown that he has no problem making the big plays. As Patterson joined the rest of Washington's first-year players at rookie minicamp on Friday, head coach Ron Rivera noticed his potential as well.
Rivera can't help but compare him to a successful running back that has become synonymous with not letting size define his game.
“I was just going to mention a specific player, Darren Sproles," Rivera said to the media on Friday. “I had an opportunity to be with Darren in San Diego, and that’s who this man reminds me of.”
Rivera was a defensive coach for the Chargers from 2007-2010 when Sproles was also on the roster, meaning the running back probably gave Rivera's group fits in practice.
Though just 5'6", Sproles used a combination of speed, power and shiftiness to continually find success in the NFL during his 15-year career. He could burst through in the run game when needed but also excelled at catching passes out of the backfield and making defenders miss on kick and punt returns.
Sproles' height may have caught the attention of many, but it was his athleticism that truly made him special. Rivera sees similar traits in Washington's newest running back.
“Yeah he’s small but he’s explosive, he’s dynamic, he’s stout," Rivera said. "He looks like a football player."
There is plenty of evidence of explosiveness from Patterson's college days, with a 409-yard, eight-touchdown-game being the top example.
It's a new level of competition in the NFL and the likes of Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic will make it a challenge for Patterson to earn a place on the roster. However, his stature won't play a role in a decision. Rivera and company are focused on his playmaking ability, something they believe could be useful on offense.
“He’s a guy that we’re going to give every opportunity to see if he can make out football team," Rivera said. "I like who he is.”