Cordarrelle Patterson Even More On Notice After Arrival of Stefon Diggs


If we didn’t already get the hint that this is a make-or-break year for Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings this weekend added further to that perception by selecting Maryland wide-out Stefon Diggs.

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It isn’t simply the addition of Diggs’ name to the depth chart that should make Patterson sit up and take notice, it’s the specific skill set Diggs brings to the table. Not only that, it’s the totality of what the Vikings have done this offseason at the receiver position.

What is Cordarrelle Patterson’s role on the Vikings after the emergence of Charles Johnson and the addition of Mike Wallace? With those two players manning the outside, the most obvious role for Patterson is as a slot receiver/gimmick weapon who does most of his damage by taking short passes and turning them into big plays.

It should have been good news for Patterson to have the pressure of developing into a genuine deep receiver removed from his shoulders, but then the Vikings went and picked up Stefon Diggs.

On the surface, Diggs and Patterson look nothing alike. Patterson is taller than Diggs by a lot, and has more straight-line speed . There’s a reason Diggs was drafted in the fifth round while Patterson was taken in the late first (and would have been drafted much higher had it not been for his lack of polish): Patterson is by most measures a more impressive athlete.

But beyond pure athletic prowess, what advantage does Patterson have over Diggs?

Even as a rookie, Diggs is arguably a more polished route-runner than Patterson is now. He also has a reputation for being sure-handed. But it’s not just his polished skills that had NFL teams looking at Diggs, it was his potential as an explosive after-the-catch weapon.

Diggs is not a tall, rangy, fast downfield receiver, he’s a slot receiver who can take a quick pass and turn it into a 20-yard gain. With the Vikings by all accounts looking to diversify their offense this year by adding more spread concepts, the value of a player like Diggs becomes evident.

Remember that Scott Turner a few weeks ago traveled west to visit with spread guru Bob Stitt, and came back remarking about new plays he and his father Norv plan on installing in the Vikings’ offense.

Spread plays require spread players. The Vikings have a spread-proficient QB in Teddy Bridgewater, with his quick release and short accuracy. Now in Stefon Diggs they arguably have a perfect slot man for such an offense.

Diggs fits so perfectly with this move to implement more spread that you have to believe the draft pick was made with that exact fact in mind. This guy’s skill set is going to be utilized in a very specific way.

It’s a skill set Cordarrelle Patterson possesses too; and Patterson is a more explosive athlete. But clearly the Vikings have little faith in Patterson’s ability to learn the plays Norv and Scott Turner plan on putting in. So Rick Spielman drafted them a receiver who, though he’s not on Patterson’s level athletically, is probably better at learning routes and running them effectively.

The question is simple: If Cordarrelle Patterson isn’t an outside receiver, isn’t a field-stretcher and isn’t a slot man, what the hell is he? He still has value as a kick returner you could argue, but Stefon Diggs himself could end up filling that role almost as well as Patterson.

It’s clear now what is at stake for Patterson. The first rounder Rick Spielman traded multiple draft picks to go up and get had better show the Vikings where/how he can be of value to their program, or he will be looking for another team in 2016.

Next: Is Trae Waynes Overrated Garbage?

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