Cordarrelle Patterson – Minnesota Vikings
Position: Wide Receiver
As one of only three receivers taken in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, a lot will be expected of Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson. He is a physically gifted young athlete who is destined to make some huge plays in the near future. Take one look at the kid, and you’d know that he’s talented. However, if you want to learn of his true potential, you’ll take some advice from the Prospect Shredder.
Though Patterson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, he’s reportedly clocked in as fast as 4.33 seconds. A player his size having top end speed like this is what gives him his raw playmaking ability. All other skills and assets aside, Patterson will be a deep threat without question.
This guy is a monster when he has the ball in his hands. He has great vision and the ability to find the open lane, as well as the agility to get around defenders. He’s able to change directions quickly and make sharp cuts, which is why he’s so elusive in the open field. To put it in perspective, Patterson had only 25 rushing attempts in college, but scored 3 touchdowns and averaged 12.3 yards per attempt. He’s also had one kick return so far in the NFL preseason, but made the most of it, taking it a whopping 50 yards. He is an electric ball carrier and will undoubtedly make some highlight reels with his immense talent.
Route running is what scouts tend to worry about most with Patterson. With only one year of major college football under his belt, he’s still not completely developed in that aspect. He wasn’t asked to run too many complicated routes at Tennessee, and would usually just rely on his physical abilities in order to get open and make plays. As he faces better d-backs in the NFL, he will have to learn how to be a better route runner and exercise the full tree. He will need to learn to disguise his routes better, and also better recognize defensive formations and schemes. He doesn’t have this strong ability right now, and will need to develop it in order to pay off as a first round talent.
Scouts have described Patterson as a “freakishly gifted athlete.” Being 6’3” in combination with having great top-end speed is what gives Patterson the “size-speed” combo that scouts rave about. It has drawn comparisons between him and Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, a stud wide out of similar dimensions. Thomas’ ability to make huge plays weighs heavily on his size and speed, and Patterson should be able to take advantage of the same skills. Patterson will be looking to get stronger in general, as it can help him in many facets of his game. He’s not weak, but if he were stronger it would help him be better against press coverage and as a run blocker. He will need to improve his strength to see his highest potential of snaps in the NFL.
Scouts see a lot of potential in Patterson’s hands, as he’s made some incredible catches in college. However he’s also missed some easy catches, due to his tendency to catch the ball with his body and not his hands. If Patterson can’t correct his tendency as a “chest-catcher,” NFL corner backs will have a field day with him. However, this is an easy fix and should be a focus of Patterson’s in the pre-season.
You can’t ask for much more than a guy who can be a deep threat and also a stud when carrying the ball. Therefore, aside from lining up wide as a down field threat, we may also see him receive screen passes, and he may very well win the Vikings kick-returning job.
Fit With Vikings:
Patterson will be joining one of the NFL’s worst pass offenses of 2012. Led by quarterback Christian Ponder, the Vikings ranked 31st in the league with 2,935 passing yards and 25th in the league with only 18 touchdowns. Though Ponder may be a lousy quarterback who probably isn’t making the offense much better, not everything can be blamed on him. Obviously the team leaned on the running game a great deal, as running back Adrian Peterson was nearly impossible to stop last season. There was also a lack of viable receiving options after receiver Percy Harvin was injured last season. Ponder was actually very successful at getting the ball into Harvin’s hands, as the versatile receiver was on pace for over 100 receptions and 1,200 yards if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
This shows that Ponder can take advantage when he has a highly talented receiver. Though it’s not the ideal situation, Patterson should still be able to make big plays and put up big numbers with Ponder throwing to him. Having Greg Jennings as a teammate has its perks as well. Jennings has been a mentor for Patterson throughout training camp and the pre-season, helping the rookie receiver become a better route-runner and all-around better player. Come regular season, Patterson will be lucky to have Jennings on the field with him to help distract opposing defenses and allow Patterson to make big plays. Although Patterson can likely be a team’s “number one” option someday, for now he’s better off among a deeper core with other playmakers. Minnesota probably wasn’t the greatest possible destination for Patterson, but he can still be successful.
What to Expect:
Though he’s fighting for the job, there’s still no guarantee that Patterson will the team’s starter opposite Greg Jennings. That spot may very well go to Jerome Simpson to start the season. Patterson will have to show what he can do in a game situation in order to steal this job from Simpson. As the team’s third wide out, he should be able to flaunt his abilities by making big plays when he gets the opportunity. Expect him to turn heads this season as a deep threat, and possibly a punt returner. He will likely make a handful of great plays, but probably won’t have the overall numbers to be top end fantasy relevant. 500 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns seem like a possibility for Patterson, and it would be a solid rookie season. Yet it’s nothing compared to the numbers that he has the potential to record in the future. If you feel the desire to take a late-round flyer on Patterson, there’s no serious risk to doing that. If not, definitely keep an eye on him in the waiver wire. From a dynasty standpoint however, he is clearly one of the stronger talents to come out of this years class..
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