In a long two-part post at Cover 32, Arif Hasan explains why in spite of all his talent, Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson isn’t seeing as many snaps as fans think he should:
A markedly different picture than the year before, Vikings fans have noted that one of their favorite receivers hasn’t been able to see the field, partially due to the talent ahead of him on the depth chart. The vaunted first-round receiver has only taken 150 snaps of the 563 snaps the Vikings had taken as of Week 10.
But with such a significant investment, it seems odd that they can’t play him more regularly — especially as he finally hauled in the first receiving touchdown of his professional career.
At the same time, it might be asking too much. Fans see a significant move to grab an impact wide receiver — knowing that the Vikings were weak at the position — and assume he’ll be able to contribute right away.
But coming into the draft, it was well-known that Patterson may have been the least-NFL ready of the incoming crop of receivers. Eric Galko at Optimum Scouting argued that this defined Patterson as a prospect in his scouting guide:
The enigma of Patterson is the fact that, while successful and productive in his first season in the SEC, he still remains both highly unrefined as a receiver and his own worst enemy at times … Tremendously gifted with limitless upside but an equally unrefined skill set, Patterson grades out as a mid-to-late 1st round draft choice.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper also came to the same conclusion, claiming that Patterson “is extremely raw as a receiver in terms of route-running and reading coverages on the fly. There are questions about how much of an offense he can absorb right away, and his hands have been inconsistent on tape.”
In part 2, Arif looks at the pro and con for getting Patterson more touches this season:
Like most everything in football, it’s a difficult question to answer despite its relative simplicity, although it ultimately comes down to a question of philosophy. There’s a good chance that increasing his snap count from where it stands now doesn’t substantially increase the Vikings’ chance of winning a particular game and could even hurt it given his limited potential contribution versus the other receivers on the roster.
On the other hand, it’s hardly a question that playing him will help him acclimate to time in the NFL, as nothing can replace in-game experience for player development and evaluation. It’s entirely possible that Patterson may end up as a “kick-returner only” like so many other athletically gifted receiver prospects but he is by no means consigned to that fate.
It isn’t enough to think that Patterson can get away with his preternatural physical talent. Every receiver to enter the Hall of Fame did so with incredible technical precision — even Randy Moss, who has often been maligned as a poor route runner because of his dominance as a deep threat. Much of Moss’ games and many of his best years were built on the back of his technical ability and incredible intelligence at his position.
“Bullet” Bob Hayes and Don Maynard, incredible athletes for their day, were also more technically refined than they were given credit for — and Maynard didn’t start consistently dominating the NFL until late in his career. There are dozens of smaller skills receivers need to master to even get on the field, much less make an impact, so it’s impossible to understate the importance of developing these skills — without them, the receiver will simply take up space on the field or be used as bait for interceptions.
In other Vikings wide receiver news, Jerome Simpson has apparently been arrested for DWI this morning. As Simpson has already been the subject of league discipline for earlier lapses, this may mean a significant punishment (suspensions, fines, etc.) is in his immediate future.