Mike Leach spent years advertising Anthony Gordon’s snappy release before finally anointing him as Washington State’s starting quarterback last September.
“(Gordon) does a good job of seeing the whole field, and the ball comes off his hand really quickly,” Leach said following a spring practice in 2018, four months before a graduate transfer named Gardner Minshew entered the picture. “Sometimes he can be spotty on his reads, but he can see a guy unattended and put the ball on him real quick.”
Those in the football scouting world who didn’t pay attention last season as Gordon bulldozed his way through single-season Pac-12 passing records finally were forced to take notice of the WSU quarterback during Thursday’s on-field drills at the 2020 NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Teammate Dezmon Patmon, who caught 119 passes for 1,578 yards in his final two seasons with the Cougars, also competed.
Gordon may not have the raw arm power, the mobility or the national championship pedigree some in this quarterback group possess, so the player who once needed a junior college detour to grab interest from Power Five programs allowed his quick release and precision do the talking during the most important part of his audition.
“Anthony Gordon. Quickest release in the 2020 Draft,” tweeted Sage Rosenfels, a 12-year NFL quarterback who was at Lucas Oil Stadium covering the combine for The Athletic.
Gordon skipped the agility drills but appeared to captivate the crowd of NFL front-office figures as soon as a ball was placed in his hands. Coming off a stellar performance in the Reese’s Senior Bowl last month, the Pacifica, California, native demonstrated an ability to throw after making a seven-step drop – something he did seldom playing out of the shotgun in the Air Raid offense.
He put a fair amount of zip on his shorter throws, connected with receivers on most of the intermediate routes and, to the surprise of some, was excellent on the deeper balls that weren’t used as often in Leach’s scheme. Gordon is widely projected to be a late-round pick, though his efforts at the Senior Bowl and combine could catapult him into a higher position.
The opportunity didn’t seem to be wasted by Patmon either. The outside receiver wasn’t invited to the Senior Bowl, playing instead at the East-West Shrine Bowl – where Patmon didn’t record a catch – and didn’t appear on mock draft boards leading up to the combine.
But the physically gifted Patmon excelled in a series of drills that tested his strength and athleticism.
The best event for Patmon was the broad jump. The receiver launched himself 132 inches, finishing with the third-best mark among his position group. The most important drill for Patmon, however, may have been the 40-yard dash. A long-strider at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Patmon was never classified as “speedy” in college, though the receiver showed he could get from A to B in a flash by clocking a 4.48 40 – best among Pac-12 receivers competing in the event and tied for 16th among all receivers.
“WR Dezmon Patmon of @WSUCougarFB not getting enough shine,” tweeted ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick. “I’ll take care of that now. HE IS A BALLER. Big, fast, strong, great hands, great workout tonight. The best is yet to come!!”
Patmon’s 20-yard shuttle time of 4.38 was No. 13 of 25 among receivers, his three-cone drill, a 7.28, was 20 of 25, and his 15 bench press reps tied for 16th of the 33 receivers that participated.
Up next for WSU’s combine duo is the school’s pro day, which will be held in Pullman on April 1.
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