This fairy tale seemed more like a nightmare back on March 11th when playmaker Percy Harvin’s glass slippers were left behind in exchange for three draft picks. Credit GM Rick Spielman for turning a pumpkin patch full of draft picks into a magical New York night that not only landed the Vikings two defensive gems but also uncovered Cinderella in the process.
Cordarrelle Patterson, the 29th overall pick also known as “Flash”, is a fan favorite in Mankato. His golden colored dreadlocks hanging from under his purple helmet is a camp fashion highlight even a story book princess would envy. Patterson’s dynamic athletic highlights on the practice field are also wowing the eye of the beholders in Minnesota. Between his one handed grabs and his incredible ability to change direction and make defenders look silly, fans have plenty of reasons to cheer and not give another thought to Percy Harvin.
Percy only stands at 5’11” 184 pounds but his shoes are almost impossible to fill. The former 2009 first round pick and Rookie of the Year has averaged 70 reception, 26.7 rush attempts and 28.5 kickoff returns per year over his 4 seasons with the Vikings. That’s a ton of production to account for, but Patterson doesn’t need to do it all on his own. He has plenty of help around him. Playmakers like Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright will help open holes for “Flash” to get his share of one on one match-ups which should setup enough splash plays for him to steal the spot light.
Much like Cinderelle, Patterson is underappreciated and somewhat raw in areas… but triumphant fortunes seem to follow his shadow. Currently, Patterson is only ranked 17th on The Sporting News’ NFL Rookie of the Year candidates list. That is a whopping 14 spots behind West Virginia standout and St. Louis Rams WR Tavon Austin. Austin, the #8 overall pick in the 2013 class is the player most experts are comparing to Percy Harvin, however it is Cordarrelle Patterson with the unenviable task of following in Harvin’s footsteps. Comparing the numbers from last season, Austin averaged 8.9 yards per carry as a runner out of the backfield compared to Patterson’s 12.3 yards per rush. As a kickoff returner, Austin averaged 24.6 yards per return to Patterson’s 26.8 yards. And as a receiver, Austin averaged 11.9 yards per catch to Patterson’s 16.9 yards per catch. Patterson may not have as much Division 1 experience or polish as Austin, but I like his chances to successfully fill the Harvin void none the less.
Patterson is special with the ball in his hands, so whether he is returning kickoffs, carrying the ball on hand-offs, catching short passes or running deep, I expect chapter one of the Vikings’ season story to be enjoyable and entertaining for all ages.