We continue to formally introduce you to our newest Vikings with our in-depth series.  If you missed the one on Sharrif Floyd then click here and you can click here for the article on Xavier Rhodes.

Up next is Tennessee wide out Cordarrelle Patterson who we identified as a possible Vikings target back in January.  Shortly after that article came about, Patterson began to skyrocket in terms of his perceived draft stock.  Despite growing concerns about his lack of experience, football intelligence, and general maturity, Patterson remained near the top of his class and was one of only three wide outs selected in the first round.

CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, WR, TENNESSEE

ATTRIBUTES

Height:                   6′ 2″

Weight:                  216 pounds

Arm Length:         31 3/4″

Hands:                   9″

COMBINE RESULTS

If Patterson’s game tape hadn’t caught the attention of NFL front offices, then his performance at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine should have done the trick.  Despite his size, Patterson was clocked as the sixth fastest wide out in the forty yard dash.  He also tied for the fifth highest vertical jump and the sixth longest broad jump.  As was expected to be the case, however, Patterson’s athleticism could not mask some inconsistencies in the positional drills.

Forty:                      4.42 seconds

Vertical Jump:      37″

Broad Jump:         128″

The Vikings were among the teams that met with Patterson at the Combine, and there are mixed reports about how well his interviews went, but we do know that he scored an “11″ on the Wonderlic test which has led to the “dumb” label being applied often and heavily by anyone with access to the internet.  Patterson, however refuses to accept that label and has a simple answer for why we shouldn’t be concerned about it.

“You can’t judge anything on the Wonderlic,” Patterson said plainly. “That has nothing to do with football.”

Keyshawn Johnson also scored an 11 on the Wonderlic, prior to being the #1 overall pick of the 1996 NFL Draft, and he came to Patterson’s defense prior to the Draft.

“If somebody is using the Wonderlic to determine if a player can play football, then the scouting department needs to be checked,” Johnson said.  ”…But I played 11 years, and was always accused of being one of the smartest players on the team.”

PRO DAY RESULTS

Patterson stood on his Combine numbers, but elected to also get numbers on record for the three-cone drill and the short shuttle.  Other than a slip in the short shuttle, Patterson once again confirmed that his athleticism gives him an incredibly high ceiling, but he also had one drop and looked raw in his route running which, likewise, confirmed that he needs NFL coaching to sink in if he’s going to avoid the “bust” label.

Three-Cone:          7.21 seconds

Short Shuttle:        4.42 seconds

PERSONAL HISTORY

After graduating high school, where he was a pronounced football player, Patterson did not play at all during 2009 while attending North Carolina Tech.  He then moved on to Hutchinson Community College where he absolutely dominated the JUCO talent pool and it was clear he needed a bump in competition.  It was after that season that he joined the Tennessee program.

The pre-Draft process is acknowledged for being filled with B.S. from anonymous sources talking about players, but those quotes live on after the Draft comes and goes, and we often look back at those quotes while forgetting the smoke-filled time period from which they come.  Some players, like Patterson will have to, then need to battle to prove that these labels being applied to him are false.

One scout was quoted as saying you felt like Patterson was “out there in La-La land” while trying to talk to him.  The same scout went on to say Patterson is “kind of immature” and “doesn’t seem to get it.”  He claimed Tennessee scaled back their playbook just for Patterson, but even after listing off Patterson’s faults the scout admitted he would be in favor of his team drafting the immense talent.

Patterson’s uncle, Reico Barber, is the Dean of Students at Rock Hill High School and doesn’t refute that Patterson has had his struggles with school.  He insists, however, that Patterson’s problem has more to do with focus, and less to with intelligence, than the pre-Draft media coverage has indicated.

“His learning style is completely different than for the average person,” Barber said. “He’s not cookie cutter. What you see is not always what’s there.”

Barber recalled a time when Patterson had to score a 75 on a math exam in order to graduate from high school.  Patterson scored a 79 and Barber thinks that’s because the circumstances called for him to buckle down and do what needed to be done.

“I hope teams realize that I’m willing to take coaching, learn from it and work hard,” Patterson said prior to the Draft. “People always want to believe the negative stuff, but they don’t really know me.”

This pre-Draft label will draw a lot media attention to Patterson’s ability to pick up the playbook in his rookie season.  This might be unfair, especially considering fellow first rounder Sharrif Floyd is very raw in his own right and Xavier Rhodes comes with major question marks with his ability to play in zone coverage, but this will certainly be the first hurdle Patterson has to put behind him in his NFL career.

The sooner, the better.

COLLEGE PRODUCTION

The receivers coach that helped recruit Patterson to Tennessee, Charlie Baggett, has had experience with some of the greatest receivers in the history of the game.  He has coached the likes of Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Andre Rison, Antonio Freeman, and Wes Welker.  Baggett says that Patterson could possibly end up being added to that list of elite names on his resume.

“He might be more explosive than Randy Moss,” says Baggett.

Patterson headed into his lone season in Tennessee expected to play a #3 role in the their offense, but the off-field struggles of Da’Rick Rogers opened up a roster spot, and Patterson established himself as a legitimate playmaker from their very first game.  In that game, he repeatedly made a fool out of N.C. State cornerback David Amerson.

As the season progressed, Tennessee began to use Patterson as a running back more frequently, and he was a very dangerous returner.  It had been four years prior to Patterson’s 2012 season that a NCAA player scored touchdowns in four different ways.

 

Receiving Rushing
Year Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD
2012 46 778 16.9 5 25 308 12.3 3
Career 46 778 16.9 5 25 308 12.3 3

Kick Ret Punt Ret
Year School Conf Class Pos Ret Yds Avg TD Ret Yds Avg TD
2012 Tennessee SEC JR WR 24 671 28.0 1 4 101 25.3 1
Career Tennessee 24 671 28.0 1 4 101 25.3 1

SCOUTING REPORTS

Patterson has plenty to work on, and he should benefit greatly from NFL coaching, but there are things he brings to the table that you just cannot coach.  He great size and speed to give him elite potential at the next level.  Despite having troubles running precise routes he has no trouble getting separation no matter what route he is running.  He can be a homerun threat in the vertical game (think Josh Gordan), produces large chunks of yardage after the catch (think Randall Cobb), and can run with the ball in a spectacular chaotic manner that can end up going in any direction that conjures up memories of Barry Sanders (yeah, I just wrote that).  My favorite trait about Patterson, and it just leaps off the game tape, is that his legs never stop churning for those extra yards or for the unexpected possibility of escaping a tackle.

He needs to work on catching the ball with his hands instead of his body, without a doubt, but he also is physical enough to box out a defender and still make the body catch when necessary.  He drops too many footballs, but if he can improve his hands catching, then he will in-turn improve his catch radius and he could become an even more dangerous player than he already is.

His versatility may also allow Vikings to play to his strengths.  For example, if Charles Tillman is jamming Patterson effectively, they should be able to line him up offset where he excelled for Tennessee.  In the end, just about every fundamental and technical part of Patterson’s game needs help, but if Stewart and company can kill any bad habits, while molding him into a more refined product, then Patterson brings a whole lot to the table in terms of raw talent.

OTHER SCOUTING REPORTS:

HIGHLIGHTS

THE SELECTION

When the Vikings were on the clock for the first time in the first round, at spot #23, they reportedly had three players left in the “second tier” of their Draft board.  The highest ranked was defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who they selected at that spot.  They were elated when the Indianapolis Colts passed on cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and they selected him at #25.

Thinking they were done for the night, the Vikings started planning for the possibility of trading up on Friday if Patterson was still available, in an attempt to complete their trio of highly ranked players.  The New England Patriots, however, owned the #29 pick and were “begging” for an opportunity to move back.

In the middle of a press conference where Rick Spielman was talking about his first two choices of the weekend, he was cut short when the war room beckoned him back to duty, and it was the Patriots on the other end of the line.  Even Leslie Frazier was doing a radio interview at the time that talks heated up surrounding the 29 spot.

The Vikings traded their second rounder (#52), their third rounder (#83), a fourth rounder (#102), and a seventh rounder (#229) in exchange for the 29th pick.  The NFL’s trade chart says the Vikings gave away 649 points worth of picks while the 29th pick is worth 640 points.  The move represented the first time since 1967 that Minnesota made three first round selections.

The Vikings may have paid a hefty price, but the result excited a fan base, as they had seemingly added three rookies to the roster for whom the sky seems to be the limit.  The team already added impact rookies in Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, and Blair Walsh last offseason so the idea of three top prospects coming to camp this offseason gives one the sense that things are still heading in the right direction despite the departures of Antoine Winfield and Percy Harvin.

The call to Patterson was made, and the whole thing was captured on video, and receivers coach George Stewart told Patterson he expected him to come to Minnesota and be a professional.  The Vikings brass then threw all of their support behind their new offensive weapon, going out of their way to dispel worries about his football I.Q., and everyone seems to be excited about what he’ll be able to do alongside Greg Jennings.

“Everybody gets drafted in spite of something,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said.

Patterson will wear #84 as a Viking, because he strives to model his game after Randy Moss, who also was drafted by the Vikings in spite of something.

PICK GRADE

It is really difficult to grade this selection all by itself and not take into account what it cost the Vikings to get there.  In exchange for their pick the Patriots were able to draft linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerback Logan Ryan, receiver Josh Boyce, and used the seventh rounder in a trade.  The Vikings may have missed a chance to address some other positions with popular players like guard Larry Warford and receiver Quinton Patton still available when they were scheduled to pick.

Still, the Vikings ended the weekend with a full class of selections (seven) and got three of their highest ranked players.  They may have been more aggressive than normal, and Patterson may worry some onlookers with his perceived bust potential, but I personally love the fact that they are swinging for the fences at the wide out position this offseason.  This is especially important in the aftermath of the whole Percy Harvin debacle.

With free agent acquisition Greg Jennings now on the roster, adding a first round talent like Patterson gives quarterback Christian Ponder a no-excuses type of season and he will be evaluated with a very critical eye.  Patterson figures to fill the role Harvin had in Musgrave’s offense, taking manufactured touches on bubble screens and quick hitches, but he also represents a more formidable downfield threat.

He will also be a sure bet to compete for a job as a punt and kickoff returner.

In the end, I have my reservations about the trade because I tend to have (as many of you know, and some will jab at me for) an accuracy-by-volume approach the Draft, but this is a case where I think Spielman gained the team some quality without sacrificing too much quantity.  I think this was beautifully orchestrated by the front office and now Patterson needs to reward the team for taking such a chance on him.

ADAM:  A-

BRETT:  B