There is no question that the wide receiver situation for the Minnesota Vikings needs to be addressed this off-seaon. While Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph was Christian Ponder's go-to target, the Vikings need an explosive down field threat. Percy Harvin led the Vikings with 62 receptions and 677 yards, despite only playing nine games.
And while the Vikings are a run first team behind NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, the league is evolving (if not already evolved) into a pass first league. And the Vikings need to catch up.
An already depleted Vikings wide receiver core has two free agents (Devin Aromashadou and Jerome Simpson) that will likely not be back next season. Veteran Michael Jenkins could be released, too. That would leave only Harvin, Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton on the roster from 2012...and with the run-ins Harvin has had with the Vikings coaches, it is hard to know if he will be wearing purple next season.
The Vikings have four critical needs to address this off season: linebacker, wide receiver, defensive back, and defensive tackle. Wide receiver is easily their biggest need.
There are two receivers in the upcoming draft that could fall to the Vikings at pick 23: Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee and Keenan Allen of California.
There is one other team in the first round, the Miami Dolphins, that is projected take a wide receiver in the first round, so unless the Vikings feel like they need to trade into the top 11 or if the Dolphins end up signing a marquee free agent receiver, fans will have to wait and see who falls to the Vikings.
|Name||Cordarelle Patterson||Keenan Allen|
|School||Tennessee, SEC||California, PAC-12|
|Height||6' 3"||6' 3"|
*according to CBSsports.com
Allen and Patterson's ranking flip-flops from draft board to draft board, but it is the consensus that they are the two top WR prospects in the draft.
Patterson only played Division-I ball for one season, transferring from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas where he set single-season records for receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. The top-ranked JUCO product in the nation chose to attend the University of Tennessee.
Patterson is a multi-threat offensive player. As a receiver, he caught 46 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns. Lined up as running back, he tallied 208 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.
He also returned four punts for 101 yards and a touchdown and compiled 671 yards and another touchdown on 24 kickoff returns. He set an SEC single-season record with a combined kickoff and punt return average of 27.6 yards, and a school record of 1,858 all-purpose yards.
Patterson has been praised for his acceleration and is very quick for his size. He is very good at running slant routes, and looks to get up field as soon as he has possession of the ball. He is a tough, confident ball-carrier and runs with the belief that no one can tackle him, which both helps and hurts his game. He has a great combination of strength and agility that makes him tough to bring down in the open field.
He is, however, raw with his ability to handle more physical defensive backs, and tries to juke his opponent rather than use his hands even though he has the size to outmatch the defense. Another knock on Patterson is his need to catch with his body, even when it isn't necessary.
He dropped a few very catchable balls during his career, including easy bucket throws over shoulder. He is also an inconsistent blocker, which is something the Vikings offence needs while they rely on Peterson's running game and Harvin's YAC.
Who should the Vikings have higher on the draft board?
Patterson is a bit of a raw athlete who needs to refine his route-running. However, he is a versatile play maker who will make an instant impact with his return skills.
Allen's 2012 statistics undermine his real ability, as he was catching passes from Zach Maynard. Despite that, he is still considered one of the top two receivers in the upcoming draft. Allen recorded over 1,300 yards as a sophomore.
Allen has the same, if not more, big-play ability as Patterson. He is one of the most dangerous receivers in the draft after the catch. Also unlike Patterson, Allen is a very physical receiver. He has shown the ability to make the tough catch over the middle, consistently getting outstanding body position on defensive backs and finding ways to out muscle defenders.
He is a natural route runner, explosive in and out of his cuts, and has enough straight line speed to be a top wide receiver in the NFL. He's no Mike Wallace, but Allen is plenty fast.
Allen has an impressive catch radius, but he isn't a consistent hands-catcher at this point. Like Patterson, he relies on his body too much, and drops plagued him again during his junior campaign and will continue to until he gets more comfortable relying on his hands. That is the main thing coaches will need to work on with Allen.
Health is also going to play a role in Allen's draft stock. His season ended early due to a knee injury, Allen will hope to get healthy enough to participate in the Combine.
Despite all this, Allen is the most complete WR prospect in the draft, and is the one that Vikings fans hopes drops to pick 23. The Vikings have many needs, and it is deep receiver draft that also boasts Tennessee's Justin Hunter and West Virginia's Tavon Austin.
If, for some reason, Keenan Allen is still around when the Vikings are on the clock, it will be hard for Vikings GM Rick Spielman to pass on him.