The Minnesota Vikings made a big move at the end of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, sending four picks (one of which they eventually got back) to the New England Patriots in exchange for the right to move back into the first round and select Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. For much of the off-season, Patterson was regarded as the top wide receiver available in this year's draft class, but wound up being the third receiver off the board behind Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins.
While we all know that Patterson has the physical ability to make an impact. . .and if you don't think he does, take about eight minutes out of your day to watch this. . .but one of the popular memes that has come out of the post-draft process has been that Patterson might not have the smarts to be able to make a real impact in the National Football League. Take this excerpt from Tom Pelissero's report from the Vikings' rookie mini-camp.
But there were concerns raised throughout the pre-draft process about Patterson's maturity and capacity for picking up the nuances of an NFL offense, thanks to his relative inexperience, a demeanor in interviews that led one team to label him "a weird dude" and a reported score of 11 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test.
"He's a guy you want on the team because he's fun-loving, but at the same time, he's got no football IQ," said an NFC personnel man who also studied Patterson closely before the draft.
"It was kind of street ball for him at Tennessee. He doesn't have the ability to understand football, understand how to run routes. But he's a really, really, really cool talent because he can do it all."
This is another reason why I absolutely loathe attempting to grade or evaluate a draft before any of the players selected even take the field. I get that if you look at Patterson on tape and that sort of thing, his route-running ability is a bit on the rough side at the present time. But to say that he "doesn't have the ability to understand football?" After he was just selected in the first round of the NFL Draft?
Give me a freaking break.
Patterson isn't the first player in draft history to face such scrutiny. He isn't even the first Vikings receiver drafted that had that sort of label placed on him. In fact, a certain wide receiver that was selected by the Minnesota Vikings 15 years ago had been labeled as a "bust" before he even took the field, with the charge famously being led by former Sports Illustrated scribe Paul "Dr. Z." Zimmerman.
Finally a place for this 6'4", 200-pounder, who ran a 4.31 40 in a private workout. Dennis Erickson fancies the passing game and he feels that this gifted athlete could really light it up for him. Personally, I'm not so sure. Actually, I'm really sure-that Moss will be a bust-but I'm too polite to say it. I have yet to see him do one tough thing on the field.
Well, then. . .that certainly didn't work out quite the way that Dr. Z. had envisioned, did it?
I'm not saying that Cordarrelle Patterson is Randy Moss. . .nobody is Randy Moss. But the Vikings have a plan in place for Patterson, one that apparently includes mentoring from soon-to-be Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter. The Vikings wouldn't have made the bold move up to draft Patterson if they didn't have a plan in place to give him every opportunity to succeed. Given the recent track record that Rick Spielman and company have when drafting players, I'm more than willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt on this one.
There was a time when Randy Moss was considered to be too weak to be a quality NFL wide receiver. There was even a time when guys like Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were thought to not be intelligent enough to be quality NFL quarterbacks. Such declarations look pretty silly in retrospect. The truth about Cordarrelle Patterson is that we don't know what kind of impact he's going to make in 2013. We don't know what kind of impact any rookie is going to have on any team in 2013. But the panic over this selection, such as it is, seems to be largely unfounded at this point in time.