Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cordarrelle Patterson is woefully unprepared to start at wide receiver, despite what fans think of his kick return ability.
The reason he needs to start is not because of his long-term development as a receiver or because he "needs to see the field," and it's not because he is a better player than the receivers ahead of him on the roster.
It's because he's the only alternative to Jerome Simpson, who could be facing a suspension and prison time for violating his parole.
While Simpson will play on Sunday against Seattle, Patterson should start ahead of him in order to allow the rest of the offense to better accommodate his abilities.
Christian Ponder, if he remains the Vikings quarterback for much longer, will develop much-needed chemistry with Patterson, who is missing it in spades with the former Florida State signal-caller.
Patterson's abysmal route-running is characterized by mistimed releases, poor separation despite high-end speed and extraordinarily rounded routes. Tipping off defensive backs and alerting others to what route he's running is incredibly dangerous and could lead to interceptions, but it more than anything else means that he'll be functionally eliminated from the play.
None of that will matter, however, as the only other split end on the roster is the also unseasoned Rodney Smith, who was only just recently activated from the practice squad. Aside from him, quarterback convert Joe Webb could fill the role, and he even flashes some superior technique, especially at the release.
But the Vikings have a lot more invested in Patterson and need him to perform at a high level. It starts in Seattle, where they may need to lean on him in order to get things done. Even if he proves to be a liability at first, it will allow them to ease the transition away from Simpson.
Given that the Vikings refuse to tell us whether Simpson will start, Patterson's opportunity could come sooner rather than later.