A lot of crazy stuff happened in the first round of the draft. There were a bunch of trades and a bunch of arguable reach picks. I don’t think any pick was more questionable than Buffalo taking EJ Manuel at 16. Why him Buffalo? Why there? Well it’s simple. It’s because Buffalo has convinced themselves that Manuel is the next Colin Kaepernick. Woe betide the organization trying to find the “next” of some hot player. That thinking will get you burned bad.
So the Manuel pick had to be the craziest move of the day. Maybe the second-craziest move was the Vikings trading four picks to New England to get back into the first and take Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson. Rick Spielman handed over a second, a third, a fourth and a seventh to get up high enough and claim Patterson, a player who is viewed as a major talent and also a major project who will need tons of polishing before he is ready to contribute at a level commensurate with his natural ability.
I will say that I am on-board with Patterson as a prospect. I have written in the past about how intriguing this guy’s talent is. My interest in Patterson traces back to some comments by noted columnist Evan Silva. Mr. Silva’s words sold me on Patterson. Silva’s argument boils down to this: Patterson may not have the route-running ability and ball skills necessary to be a true vertical threat at this time. He will need plenty of coaching and work to get to where you can use him as a downfield true #1 receiver. But his talents are so great that, given the right circumstances, he can still be a huge contributor right away. Silva says you just need to use Patterson between the hashes, in a creative Percy Harvin sort of way, to get the immediate value from his talent.
In my previous post on Patterson I pointed to Bill Musgrave’s work with Harvin. If Musgrave could find creative ways to get the ball in Harvin’s hands, I argued, why can’t he do the same for Patterson? And I believe that is the thinking behind this pick. The Vikings are thinking the same way Silva is thinking. And I think there’s a good chance Musgrave can devise packages and plays to maximize Patterson right away. And if Patterson continues to grow and develop, eventually you will be able to line him up at split end and use him as a true downfield threat. And then look out.
A lot of “ifs” there. And those “ifs” are why, no matter how highly you think of Patterson as a talent, you have to wonder if the Vikings didn’t go overboard in making this trade. Obviously they identified Patterson as a guy they wanted and you have to respect Spielman’s aggressiveness in getting that guy. But was Spielman over-aggressive? Did he give up too many picks? Especially considering the remaining needs. The Vikings now won’t pick until the fourth unless they trade back up again.
It was a bold move. And if Patterson doesn’t pan out, it will blow up in Spielman’s face. But if he does pan out? This will look like a genius move of all-time. That’s why they call it rolling the dice. I’m not sure if this dice roll was wise but I know it was ballsy and I have to give it up to Spielman. Bold moves like this are necessary sometimes if you are going to build a winning team. Rick didn’t flinch. He rolled.