Experience: 3rd year
Weight: 300 lbs
College: Texas Christian
An undrafted free agent, Morris signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2018 NFL Draft. He didn’t make the Steelers’ roster, but earned a spot on their practice squad for his rookie season and spent his first year in the NFL being coached by OL mastermind Mike Munchak. His 2019 season started much the same way, including a return to the Steelers’ practice squad for further development.
Morris was likely on the radar for the Broncos at that point due to the Munchak connection, with enough connection to merit mention as a potential waiver wire pickup. He made it through waivers, though, and remained in the Steelers’ development unit until they called him up on November 21st to step in as a backup while starting Center Maurkice Pouncey, served 2 game suspension. After Pouncey returned, Morris was cut on December 2nd and appeared headed back to the PIT practice squad until the Broncos claimed him on waivers the next day.
Mike Munchak must have been pleased by Morris’s development to that point, as he threw him into live action just 19 days later- and played him at guard, where he hadn’t played since college. Morris played 37 snaps in the 2nd half vs the Detroit Lions at left guard, filling in for Dalton Risner who had been dealing with an illness prior to the game and could not continue.
Morris appears to be, at minimum, quality depth. But he may be more than that as well. He looked decent in limited action vs the Lions, and that after less than 3 weeks on the roster and playing guard instead of center. That set him up well to compete for a larger role in 2020, especially once Connor McGovern departed for the New York Jets during free agency.
Morris’ intelligence likely contributed to his quick debut with the Broncos, along with O-line attrition. Having made three All-Big 12 Academic teams while at TCU, he has the ability that a good center needs to call adjustments on the line. And he’s a guy who puts planning over pride, as he preferred to have the opportunity to choose a team with great coaching over the possibility of being a late round pick.
In an interview after the draft, Morris explained why he preferred to chart his own course as an UDFA, and his choice of Pittsburgh as his first NFL home specifically: “I feel I’m technically raw. I have a lot of room to grow with football and this team has excellent coaching. That’s why at that point I would rather be undrafted and pick where I wanted to go rather than get drafted in the seventh round and go somewhere else.”
With quick feet and strong arms (37 bench reps), Morris has some good traits for an interior lineman. His 40 time of 5.09 is very nice for a lineman as well, albeit less applicable to his job on the field. He has the athletic talent and the mental processing to get the job done. And as a team captain during his senior year at TCU, he fits the Broncos’ preference for high effort, high character players as well. The question is when he’ll get the opportunity.
The NFL Draft is a world of measurables, and that can cut extra deep at positions like Center. For Morris, his height of 6’3” puts him a couple inches shy of average for an offensive lineman. Plenty of players have played well at that height, but it didn’t help his stock on draft day.
The bigger issues for Morris are injury history and relative lack of experience. He missed half of his senior year due to an injury, and how durable he’ll be in the NFL remains to be seen. Moreover, his 18 starts in college all came in the final 2 of his 5 years at TCU, making for a shallow resume. And while development, even development under Munchak’s coaching, is one thing, Morris is still pretty raw as it comes to real on-the-field experience.
Patrick Morris has a really good shot at a roster spot this season. Moreover, I think he’ll be one side of the only true camp battle along the offensive line in 2020 as he competes with 3rd round rookie Lloyd Cushenberry III. Cushenberry has the draft pedigree and commensurate expectations that Morris doesn’t, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Morris won’t be the one more prepared to play in the NFL this September- especially considering this wacky offseason.
So while most of us have Cushenberry penciled in at Center, don’t reach for the pen on this camp battle anytime soon. And even if he loses out, I think Morris is in excellent position to benefit from the NFL’s expanded rosters and specifically the additional offensive lineman on gameday active rosters. His position versatility between Center and Guard is exactly what this coaching staff seems to love in a player. So if he doesn’t start the season as C1, he may well be a vital depth piece as C2 and G3 or G4.
How do you see the season shaking out for Patrick Morris?
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On the Practice Squad
Off the Roster