Vikings make bold move to grab Patterson late in first round
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings got a big return for versatile, playmaking receiver Percy Harvin when they traded Harvin to Seattle.
But it turns out Minnesota paid a pretty price to find Harvin's possible replacement.
After remaining patient and picking in their two assigned spots in the first round of Thursday's NFL draft, the Vikings got aggressive in trading back into the first round at No. 29. They sent a second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round pick to New England for the right to grab Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, considered one of the top offensive playmakers on the board.
"We felt besides Tavon Austin (drafted No. 8 by St. Louis), (Patterson) was the most explosive playmaker with the ball in his hand," Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman said. "And we had talked about potentially moving up to go get him tomorrow, but when something came to fruition tonight when I was talking to you guys, we wanted to jump on that. So we were very, very aggressive to go do that just because I know what he can do as a receiver, but especially what he can do as a potential punt and kickoff returner because he is magic in that area as well."
Patterson, 22, played one year at Tennessee after transferring from junior college. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is considered raw as a receiver, but his playmaking ability convinced the Vikings to make a move. Spielman was cut off in the middle of a press conference and called back upstairs when the possibility of getting Patterson came into play.
"We go off the point charts and stuff," Spielman said. "But to get another pick in the first round and to get a player of that caliber that was still there, we felt that he could be that big of a difference-maker for us to go ahead and get it done."
Patterson might not immediately replace Harvin's receiving totals in his first year, but he will likely be counted on to replace Harvin as the team's kickoff returner. Patterson is bigger than Harvin but also is a versatile player and is most dangerous with the ball in his hands. Last year for Tennessee, Patterson scored 10 total touchdowns by way of receiving, rushing and returning punts and kicks.
Patterson, who ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, had 46 catches for 778 yards, 25 carries for 308 yards, 24 kick returns for a 28.0-yard average and four punt returns for 101 yards.
"My strength is with the ball in my hands," Patterson said. "I feel like I can do whatever I want with it. I go back to kick return. I can throw it and run it…I'm still working on my route running. I feel like I have a lot to improve on that, learning my coverages and stuff. But I feel like now, I'm with coach George (Stewart), he's a great coach. Me and him sat down for like an hour and just talked and got to know each other. I feel like he's going to help me get where I need to be."
Patterson doesn't expect to replace Harvin initially, but hopes to work his way toward doing so and believes he can offer an immediate impact as a returner.
"I love being that kick returner," Patterson said. "They used to have Percy Harvin. I know I can't replace him, but I feel like I'm going to go in and work hard and try to be a starter on that kickoff return. Whoever's there, I'm going to try and compete with him and try to get each other better, and I know it's going to be great for whoever is back there.
The Vikings, who added veteran Greg Jennings in free agency, know Patterson's impact as a receiver could be delayed. Patterson can learn from Jennings and might not be required to start right away with Minnesota also re-signing Jerome Simpson and having emerging second-year receiver Jarius Wright on the roster.
"It seems with most wide receivers that come into our league, there is a learning curve," coach Leslie Frazier said. "Just the route running, trying to get assimilated to a new offense is an adjustment. There's very few wide receivers that come in and make a big impact in their first year. But we're going to do all we can to get him prepared and get him ready to have an impact on our football team and on this league. We know as a fact as a kick returner, he'll have a chance to have an impact early and we'll bring him along as a wide receiver."
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