Six months ago, cornerback Tyler Patmon was not only ‘undrafted’, he wasn’t even picked-up by an NFL team as a free agent following the draft. But during rookie minicamp, the Cowboys invited Patmon to a ‘tryout’. If he proved himself to the coaching staff by competing against the drafted rookies and newly signed rookie free agents, he might get a shot at being added to the 90 man roster heading into training camp. And that’s exactly what happened: Patmon played well enough at his tryout that he was signed to a contract.
Then when training camp rolled around in July, Patmon outplayed rookie cornerback Terrance Mitchell who was drafted in the 7th round. He also outplayed veteran B.W. Webb. Patmon continued to shine on the practice field in Oxnard, California as well as the preseason games. And when the final roster cuts were made, it was the ‘tryout kid’ who made the 53-man roster.
Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin, the defensive guru who was the architect of the great Tampa Bay defense from 1996 to 2008, said that Patmon reminded him “of a young Ronde Barber”. That’s high praise. Kiffin coached Barber, a future Hall of Fame player, in Tampa.
Fast-forward to Week 9 of the regular season: Patmon intercepts a Carson Palmer pass and returns it 58 yards for a touchdown to give the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead over the Cardinals. It was Patmon’s first career interception and first career touchdown.
Even though Patmon is the 4th cornerback on the Cowboys depth chart, he plays as the sixth defensive back when the Cowboys are in their “dime” defense. So even though he’s not on the field for many plays, he showed that he can make the most of limited opportunities. He’s also contributing on special teams. Through the first 9 games of the season, Patmon is tied with veteran Dwayne Harris for the most solo tackles on special teams.
Early indications are that the rookie may live up to Kiffin’s expectations.
And speaking of coaches, Patmon played in college for a defensive coach that all Cowboys fans will remember: Dave Campo, currently the defensive coordinator at the University of Kansas.
Patmon graduated from Kansas in 2012 and had one year of football eligibility remaining, so he transferred to Oklahoma State and started 5 of 13 games in Stillwater in the 2013 season.
His combined career stats from both Kansas and Oklahoma State are impressive: 33 starts in 48 careers games with 2 touchdowns (one on a fumble return, one on an interception return); 7 interceptions; 31 passes defensed; 15 ½ tackles-for-loss, and 172 tackles.
Even more impressive than his accomplishments on-the-field is the fact that in the classroom he earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors twice.
Patmon is a native Texan from Cedar Park who starred at Vista Ridge High School in both football and track. And, yes, in the classroom, too, with Academic All-District honors.