We’re not quite sure what to make of Michigan QB Shea Patterson. As a college football player or an NFL draft prospect.
First, there’s the inconsistent play. The hype outpacing the production to this point. Two college stops — Ole Miss and Michigan. And several more stops before that at multiple high schools. The whispers about his coachability. And more.
Yes, the NFL is somewhat intrigued with the former top-10 high-school recruit. But there needs to be more — quite a bit more — to get NFL scouts lathered up about his projection at the next level.
“There are some concerns there,” one long-time college scouting director said about Patterson, not wanting to give too many specifics. “His last year will be big for us to figure all that out. Figure out how he operates.”
But the question is: Will that even happen at Michigan? Well, we’re less certain after hearing his coach’s comments this week.
The most interesting and newsworthy nugget of Friday’s session with Harbaugh at Big Ten Media Days was the coach suggesting that Patterson, the current starter, and highly recruited No. 2 QB Dylan McCaffrey could split time this season.
"Yeah, I do [envision scenarios where both play],” Harbaugh said. “Where it stands right now — and that could change later or not — is I see them both playing.
“Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is. I see that; that's where it is now. They're both — you just see that you want to get both on the field."
Some observers were surprised when Michigan did not bring Patterson, its returning senior QB starter, to the event at the Chicago Hilton. Now perhaps we have some perspective why.
Harbaugh hasn’t been a big two-QB coach in the past. He trickled in some Colin Kaepernick packages as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and eventually benched starter Alex Smith for Kaepernick, a move that landed his team in the Super Bowl. But there have not been too many other instances where Harbaugh has had his quarterbacks alternate series in games; he’s typically had his guy most seasons.
And, mind you, Harbaugh is not talking about playing Patterson and McCaffrey on the field at the same time.
“When I say both [playing] in games, it'd be [that] they're both playing quarterback during the same game,” he said.
What Jim Harbaugh’s two-QB comments mean for Shea Patterson
That’s good for McCaffrey. But certainly less so for Patterson. His senior season will be his final chance to impress after what has been a less-than-fulfilling college experience. There was some real strong play at times last season from Patterson, who started all 13 games for the Wolverines had turned in an impressive 22-7 TD-INT ratio. His passer rating of 149.9 ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten.