Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
We continue to shine the spotlight on the Vikings former rookies today by looking at perhaps the “flashiest” of their picks from last year.
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, from Tennessee, made a splash on draft night by sporting a white dinner jacket, and it didn’t take him long to make a splash on the football field.
The Vikings turned plenty of heads when they traded with the New England Patriots to get a third first round pick in the 2013 draft. In all, the Vikings sent a second (52nd overall), third (83rd), fourth (102nd), and seventh (229th) round selection to the Patriots in exchange for the 29th pick. Many speculated the team was targeting Manti Te’o of Notre Dame, but Rick Speilman had a much different player in mind.
Patterson was sitting in the green room a little longer than expected, as he was projected to go in the first round due to his unique blend of size, speed and instincts. The knock on Patterson coming out of the draft was his lack of polish as a receiver, as he had only competed at a major college level for one season.
It was clear the Vikings coveted Patterson and saw him as a potential No. 1 receiver and replacement for Percy Harvin. To land him, the team gave up four draft picks to the Patriots, selecting him 29th overall.
Patterson ended up being the third wide receiver off the board, after Tavon Austin and Deandre Hopkins.
Patterson started the season fourth on the team’s wide receiver chart but as their starting kick returner. While the team focused on developing Patterson and keeping him off the field on offense early, he provided immediate benefits in the return game, scoring a touchdown on a kickoff return in only Week 2 of the season.
Patterson also scored the longest return touchdown in NFL history at 109 yards Week 7 against the Packers.
Eventually, the Vikings began to involve Patterson more and more on the offensive side of the ball. The team finally opened up their playbook to do creative things with Patterson such as giving him the ball on sweeps and tosses, as well as handing it off to him in the backfield. The result: Patterson scored three rushing touchdowns longer than 30 yards in the final five weeks of the season, and he had his first 100 yard receiving game in Week 15.
Patterson finished his rookie year with 45 receptions for 469 yards and four receiving touchdowns, 12 rushes for 158 yards and three rushing touchdowns, and 1,393 kickoff return yards and two touchdowns.
375 of Patterson’s total 627 yards on offense came in the final five weeks of the season.
Patterson’s kickoff yardage total is the highest ever for a Viking in a season, and he was named to the All-Pro and Pro Bowl team as a returner. Patterson is also the only player in NFL history to score a touchdown with a 100-yard return, a 75-yard reception and a 50-yard rush in a single season.
Expectations for 2014
If Patterson continues to develop his hands and his routes, there’s no question that he can be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Even more exciting for Vikings fans should be the fact that new offensive coordinator Norv Turner just turned another second year receiver, Josh Gordon, into a borderline superstar in Cleveland.
Turner said the first thing he did when he got to Minnesota was to design ten plays just for Patterson. That shows what kind of playmaker Turner thinks the Vikings have their hands on.
Expect plenty of “flash” from No. 84 again in 2014, as Patterson has the ability to be one of the best multi-threat weapons in the NFL today.