What the Vikings gave up in exchange for Cordarrelle Patterson is known in economic circles as an "opportunity cost." In this context, it means the value of the players they could have drafted with the picks they traded for Patterson. (#89, #102, #120, #229). To find that value I first conducted my own draft using the Vikings original picks. These are the picks shown on the left in the chart below. The picks in the middle and on the right are the Vikings actual picks.
Due to the Vikings' subsequent trade with the Buccaneers the #229 pick was converted to a 7 spot difference in where the sixth round pick was chosen. I retained the Vikings original 6th round pick and chose Rambo at #189. The Vikings moved down to Tampa Bay's spot and chose Baca at #196.
Arthur Brown---------Cordarrelle Patterson
Bacarri Rambo---------------------Jeff Baca
So the players whose value should be compared are:
Brown MLB, Patton WR, Jones OL, Rambo SS
Patterson WR, Baca G
which I rate as:
Patton <<< Patterson
Brown >>>>>>>>>> 0
Jones >>>> Baca
Rambo >>>>> 0
Now I know that Patterson has the potential to become a real game-changer, a much larger and somewhat faster version of Percy Harvin. That is a great best case scenario but even so, Patton is a reliable route runner and an effective blocker, traits valuable to the Vikings that Patterson does not possess and he would contribute earlier than Patterson. I'd say that, in the end, Patterson's potential carries the day but not by an enormous amount.
Brown is enormously better than nothing. A top tier MLB who excels in areas where the Vikings need its MLB to, coverage and range. A real loss for the Vikings.
Barrett Jones is the rare talent that can not only play all the OL positions but play them well. Baca is a very athletic guard whose performances on the field were not as good as his performance at the combine. Jones can do what Baca does better and can do many things he can't. A huge advantage to Jones.
Rambo is more than just a cool name. He is a big improvement over Sanford and Raymond. His pairing with Smith would make the heart of Vikings secondary a true strength. Safeties are even more important than CBs in the Tampa 2, and thus improving them is extra important as well. The contribution the Vikings will miss out on that Rambo could have made was considerable, IMHO.
So to sum up.
Does the significant but not enormous improvement to the WR position that Patterson's choice over Patton brings outweigh the enormous improvement that Brown would bring to the MLB position plus the significant improvement to the OL that Jones' choice over Baca would bring plus the significant improvement in the SS position that Rambo would bring?
I certainly don't think so.
I think that Patton, Jennings, Wright and Rudolph would be a great corp of receivers for a team with AP on it. After AP is gone maybe the Vikings need a superstar WR. Right now I think the Vikings ought to build on AP's talents with quality blockers like Patton and Jones, while bringing in a capable threat (Patton) to take pressure off of Jennings.
I also think that depriving the defense of a top quality MLB, its position of greatest need, was tragic. A truly epic failure in this draft IMHO.
Rambo is just gravy on the side. If you think Sanford can't be improved upon just ignore it entirely. I, however, think it was an opportunity missed.
I think that this trade has got to be counted as a Spielman Flop. Not a big enough one to ruin a draft that starts with Floyd and Rhodes, but a true Flop nevertheless. I know I'll cringe a bit for a long time whenever I hear anyone say "in Spielman we trust."
And one more point that I didn't include in the main argument for clarity's sake.
I do not see the Vikings drafting Mauti in the 7th if they already had drafted both Brown and Hodges. I also think they might have been less inclined to draft a second guard prospect in Bond if they had drafted Jones instead of Baca.
I would have drafted Da'Rick Rogers and Jordan Poyer in their places and as I think they provide more valuable depth to the Vikings, I think that increase in value should be added to the "trade not a good idea side" which makes the decision all that more lopsided.
Brown, Patton, Jones, Rambo, Rogers, Poyer
Patterson, Baca, Mauti, Bond
is one heck of a lot of value to give up even if Patterson turns out great.
God help us all if he flops though, which, after all, is the fate of an awful lot of "potential."
Then the trade might rightfully be spoken of in the same breath as Herschel Walker, and nobody wants that.