One of my favorite players in the 2013 NFL Draft class has to be Tennessee Volunteers WR Cordarrelle Patterson. While Patterson only spent one year in college, it is what he did there that stands out.
Patterson was a junior college transfer to Tennessee before the 2012 season, and dominated the second he walked on to the field. Patterson put his skills on display Week 1 against North Carolina State on ESPNU. Patterson stretched the Wolfpack defense including a 41-yard-touchdown bomb from Tyler Bray. Patterson sprinted past NCSU CB David Amerson as Tyler Bray put it right into Patterson’s hands as he walked into the end zone. Later on in the first quarter Patterson took a reverse play 67 yards for a score and the Patterson Era began. The game showed the country just the type of playmaker Patterson can be, and this was just his coming out party.
Cordarrelle Patterson would finish his first and only season as a Volunteer setting the SEC record with a combined kickoff and punt return average of 27.6, while setting the Tennessee record for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,858. Patterson finished the season with 10 touchdowns (5 receiving, 3 rushing, 1 KO return, 1 punt return). Patterson is still developing but the numbers he put up in the toughest conference in college football are eye popping.
It may sound odd but “open field magician” is the best phrase to describe what Cordarrelle Patterson is. When Patterson has the ball in his hands he is the most electrifying player on the field. Patterson’s combination of size (6’3) combined with his speed, vision and agility make him a magician in the open field. As a returner Patterson split coverage down the middle as he would sprint past the special teams coverage for a touchdown. Cominf off a reverse Patterson uses his vision and quick cuts to avoid the first row of defenders then gets into second gear and outrun the secondary. Patterson’s 3 rushing TD’s in the 2012 season were just a small glimpse of what he can do on reverse plays making him an even bigger game changer. Finally there is Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver. He has the speed to out run taller corners but has the size to beat faster defensive backs in a jump ball situation. Patterson’s combination of size, speed, vision and agility make him the type of player who QB’s love and defensive coordinators hate to game plan against.
While Cordarrelle Patterson has the skill set to be a game changer in the NFL, he is still a work in progress and a boom or bust type player. Patterson was a legend after just one season at Tennessee, but he also caused some headaches. It wouldn’t be unfair to say he doesn’t know how to run designated routes, he often strays off in his own direction which has caused problems for the Volunteers offense. While Patterson did have to learn a new system in Tennessee, he will have to do the same thing when he is drafted. Coaches will have to guide Patterson through the playbook and slowly help him learn the routes and constantly work to help him improve. While rookies always struggle to transition to the NFL and learning an NFL playbook, Patterson will take even more time to learn the system. The other area Patterson needs to work on is his hands and how he catches the football. Countless times Patterson would be wide open and the ball would be placed over his shoulder, but he would drop the pass on what would have been an easy touchdown. He still needs to improve on catching the ball with his hands rather than letting it come into his chest and turning around before it is tucked away. If Cordarrelle Patterson really wants to maximize on his physical gift, he will need to spent a lot of time working on his route running and hands.
If you told me I could have any skill-position player in this class, I would take Cordarrelle Patterson every time. He may be the most unpolished WR in this class, but his combination of size and speed make him one of the rare commodities that rarely come around. Both Patterson and NFL coaches would have to be willing to putting in a lot of extra work, but the work would be far outweighed by the rewards. There is no doubt in my mind Cordarrelle Patterson is worthy of a Top 10 pick and should have an immediate impact as a rookie.
Projected Pick: Buffalo BIlls (8th Overall)
Filed under: 2013 NFL Draft