Prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft are having final meetings and workouts in preparation for the event in just under two weeks. Much of the hoopla surrounding the event concerns how high a player is drafted, but players should be more concerned with the team that selects him. That becomes more important in how a player’s career shapes up — just ask Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith.
The 2012 Tennessee Volunteers featured a high-powered offense with some playmakers who will have their name called sooner rather than later in the draft. Former wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter played a major part of that talented offense and have now been dissected by numerous scouts.
These scouts have labeled the playmakers as potential boom-or-bust prospects with loads of talent that is largely unproven. With the right fit, their careers could take off. Conversely, the wrong fit could prove disastrous. Here’s a few teams that could help these former Volunteers’ careers blossom.
Justin Hunter: Hunter has the size (6-foot-4 196 pounds), speed (4.44 40-yard dash) and leaping ability (39.5-inch vertical) to be a successful NFL receiver. His game resembles a poor man’s version of Randy Moss. His straight line speed from his long strides allows him to blow past corner backs to be a vertical threat in the passing game.
He should develop into a great red-zone target when he learns to catch the ball at its highest point consistently. Strength at the line of scrimmage and a lack of game experience (missed 2011 due to ACL injury) are the two biggest questions about Hunter entering the draft.
Hunter will immediately offer a deep threat to the team that selects him. That’s why I look at the Pittsburgh Steelers as a great fit for Hunter. The Steelers lost their best playmaker this offseason in Mike Wallace, and could lose Emmanuel Sanders as well. Hunter could step in and serve as a cheaper version of Wallace to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who likes to take his fair share of chances throwing deep.
The combination of Roethlisberger and Hunter would be lethal in the passing game. Their strengths coordinate together nicely that would serve both the Steelers and Hunter in a positive manner.
Cordarrelle Patterson: Like Hunter, Patterson possesses great speed (4.42 40-yard dash) but is slightly bigger than Hunter standing 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds. Patterson is the best wide receiver in this draft with the ball in his hands. He has elite vision with instinctive cutting ability that allowed him to blow past SEC defenders without losing stride.
His combination of skills make him a dangerous player in the return game as he finished in the top-15 this past season in kick return average. Patterson has just one year of experience playing at the NCAA level and understanding schemes and route concepts will be a struggle for Patterson.
Once again, I turn to a team that lost a similar player to Patterson — the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings lost a huge portion of their offense with the departure of Percy Harvin, who is one of the most electric players in the NFL with the ball in his hands and had a huge impact in the return game. The Vikings brought in Greg Jennings, but quarterback Christian Ponder sorely needs another weapon in the passing game.
Patterson will do many of the things Harvin did in the Vikings offense. Get the ball in his hands as a running back, an end-around or a short slant and let him make a play — that is what Harvin did, and what Patterson will do. The Vikings would have an understanding of how to feature a player like Patterson, which would allow for an easy transition for the receiver.