When the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the first round of the NFL draft to grab former University of Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson last Thursday, it became clear the front office believed very strongly that this kid was special.
Patterson's journey to the NFL has been a unique one. From his days of playing JUCO football at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, to earning a scholarship to suit up at the University of Tennessee, the 22-year-old seems to have barely scratched the surface of his true potential.
So what can we expect from Patterson during his first season with the Vikings? To get a better understanding of that, we first need to look at the pros and cons of his game.
One of the reasons the Vikings traded up to grab Cordarelle Patterson was they understood, despite his lack of experience, that he is a big-time playmaker when the ball is in his hands.
“They said he was maybe the best athlete in the SEC,” Spielman said.
Unlike a lot of receivers currently playing in the NFL, Patterson is a player who can make his presence felt all over the field. From the return game to the ground game, the Vikings went out and drafted a player who can give the team an extremely versatile weapon to use on Sundays.
Unlike a lot of the other established wide receivers selected this past weekend, Cordarelle Patterson's resume is very thin—having only played 12 games of Division I football before entering the draft.
Coming out of high school, Patterson lacked the credentials needed to secure himself a Division I scholarship. After starting off at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, Patterson finally managed to earn his way onto a Division I roster. He would end up landing a scholarship to play at the University of Tennessee.
While there's no doubting that Patterson is a very raw talent, the upside and hard work he has shown over the course of his brief football journey has clearly resonated well with the Vikings' front office.
One pro that you can't miss when talking about Cordarelle Patterson's game is his speed. It is like the power of an Italian sports car.
Running a 4.42 40-yard dash, Patterson could be just as fast as the man he was brought in to replace, Percy Harvin.
The best part is that on tape, Patterson actually looks faster than he did at the combine. To standing 6'2" and possess that kind of speed is pretty scary. Vikings fans should be ready to watch magic happen when Patterson, a human highlight reel, touches the ball next season.
Putting all of the positive aspects of his game aside, when you look at Cordarrelle Patterson, you see a player who is very raw.
A below-average route-runner, Patterson does possess an obscene amount of athletic ability, but should be considered a talented project.
When Rick Spielman traded up to select Patterson, he understood that the only way Patterson will find any success at the next level is if he is coached, utilized and managed properly.
With veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings serving as his on-field mentor, Patterson will have a chance to hone his skills all season long in 2013.
Although Cordarrelle Patterson's skill set is raw, the top reason the Vikings are thrilled they ended up with him is because he is a once-in-a-generation athlete.
From his crazy catch radius and range (larger than Rob Gronkowski's range) to his near-perfect reaction time, Patterson possesses superhero-like abilities.
Don't believe me? Just watch the Sports Science video above.
Fair warning, most Vikings fans may not be able to wipe the huge smile off their faces at the end of this clip.
Based on the pros and cons of his game, what can we expect from Cordarrelle Patterson during his first year with the Vikings?
First off, Patterson's athletic ability and speed alone will make him an instant factor in the return game. Filling a void that Percy Harvin left behind, Patterson will infuse the team with a jolt of electricity whenever he manages to get his hands on the football.
On the receiving side of the equation, Patterson's lack of experience will hurt him when the season kicks into full gear.
While Patterson should be able to line up as a No. 2 receiver all year long, fans will need to temper their statistical expectations this season due to his lack of experience.
Overall, what the Vikings drafted was one of the most fluent and gifted athletes to come along in the past few years. With a strategic approach and a consistent offensive system to learn in, Patterson should become one of the top receivers in the NFL in due time.