Why the Minnesota Vikings Must Remain Patient with Cordarrelle Patterson

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2013

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - MAY 3: Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings speaks to the media during a rookie minicamp on May 3, 2012 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

By now, most Minnesota Vikings fans realize that former University of Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is a remarkably gifted athlete.

When the ball is in his hands, Patterson impresses like a pristine Italian sports car cruising past a group of impressionable runway models. He has vision, gravity-defying range and loves to separate from defenders vertically all game long.

Like most people, after reading that description of Patterson, you'd assume this guy should be a lock for 1,500 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. I mean, who could possibly stop that hair-raising, mad scientist-like concoction of range, speed and ball skills?

But, before you write in Patterson as the clear favorite to win the NFL Rookie of the Year, let's take a minute to step back and get a better understanding for why most Vikings fans will need to be patient with Cordarrelle Patterson during his rookie campaign.

For starters, factoring out all of the impressive things he can do with the football in his hands, Patterson is still a rookie at heart.

And like most rookies, especially those who play the wide receiver position, he'll need a few years to properly develop before he can blossom into a superstar. The Vikings and their fans were spoiled when Randy Moss came into the league back in 1998 and dominated the way he did. To expect that from Patterson is wishful thinking at best.

Putting aside all of the positive traits that are thrown around when talking about Patterson's game, this guy does have a bunch of areas in which he needs to dramatically improve.

When you look at Cordarrelle Patterson, you see an incredibly raw NFL prospect. Classified by most as a below-average route-runner, Patterson will need to work on this aspect of his game if he wants to become the game-changing weapon the Vikings drafted him to be.

And to achieve this kind of upgrade in the route-running department, he will have to dedicate a generous Thanksgiving-sized helping of his practice minutes towards improving this area of his game—and my friends, that doesn't happen magically during the course of one NFL season.

Factoring out the route-running element of the equation, successful NFL receivers also possess the ability to constantly beat press-coverage, disguise their routes and recognize defensive schemes when needed. Those are all areas Cordarrelle Patterson needs to work on if he has any hope of reaching an elite playing level.

Outside of the work Patterson needs to put in to better his game, there's always the off-the-field stuff you have to take into consideration when discussing the success of any NFL rookie.

Being an NFL rookie means that you've been blessed with a sudden influx of fresh cash you can toss around with no regrets. Coming out of college, a lot of these prospects have to be made aware that the money they blindly run into at the next level can serve as a fatal distraction for their professional careers.

For a guy who has catapulted from playing JUCO ball at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas to starting at the University of Tennessee to becoming a first-round draft pick, Patterson has been on one sensational ride to the top.

With the money and distractions now in play, the Vikings front office and Patterson's personal advisers need to make sure they keep this uber-talented kid on the right path to success.

One final reason Vikings fans need to remain patient with Patterson is that landing in Minnesota means he now faces a ton of pressure that he's never encountered before.

Playing in only 12 games at the University of Tennessee, Patterson doesn't really have a ton of big-game experience—and coming off a surprising playoff run, most fans expect the Vikings to get back to the postseason and potentially win the division this year.

That's heavy pressure for a kid expected to deliver the world to them on a silver platter.

Look, skill set and pressures aside, we all understand that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Leslie Frazier drafted Patterson with a blueprint for success in mind. They know the pressures that come with being selected in the first round of the NFL draft—especially on the offensive side of the pigskin—and the burden these guys have on their shoulders coming into all of this money.

What the Vikings got was a freakishly superior athlete who can change the course of the game when the ball touches his hands. Patterson is an underdeveloped, unique talent that comes along once every few years.

While there's no question that Patterson's skill set will allow him to have a positive impact on the Vikings' return game and aerial attack, in order for this guy to develop into the special, Pro Bowl-caliber player fans expect him to be, time and patience are needed.