The Minnesota Vikings have had a history of success with wide receivers who wear the No. 84. In 1998, the Vikings selected former Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss with the 21st selection of the NFL Draft. Moss went on to break the rookie record for touchdown receptions in his first year with the Vikings, and over the course of eight memorable seasons he produced statistics bested only by Vikings Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter.
Four years after Moss last put on his purple and gold No. 84 jersey, another promising young wide receiver wore No. 84 onto the football field for the Vikings. This man is Cordarrelle Patterson, and he will soon establish himself as a superstar wide receiver in the NFL, much like the wide receiver who wore the No. 84 Vikings jersey before him.
After already selecting Shariff Floyd with the No. 23 pick and Xavier Rhodes with the No. 25 pick, general manager Rick Spielman traded back into the first round with the New England Patriots for the No. 29 pick during the 2013 NFL Draft. With this pick the Vikings selected Patterson, the high-ceiling wide receiver from Tennessee.
While Patterson did not begin to have a major impact on the Vikings’ offense until late in the season, his presence on special teams was noticed immediately. In just his second NFL game and third career kickoff return, Patterson returned the opening kickoff against the Chicago Bears for a 105-yard touchdown. He would later return the Week 7 opening kickoff against the Green Bay Packers 109 yards for another return touchdown and finish his rookie season with a ridiculous 32.4 yards-per-return average, breaking a Vikings record.
As the 2013 NFL season progressed, Patterson became one of the most dynamic offensive threats in the entire NFL. He began to score touchdowns in every possible way from all over the field. Patterson recorded a 79-yard receiving touchdown as well as a 50-yard rushing touchdown in just a four game span. In fact, Patterson will enter the 2014 season on a five-game touchdown streak. During this five game period Patterson has scored a total of six touchdowns, three as a receiver and three as a rusher.
While Patterson would finish his rookie season 13 receiving touchdowns shy of Moss’ rookie record, he certainly appears to have a promising career ahead of him. Patterson did not enter the NFL with the same polish as Moss did as a receiver, but he does possess similar breakaway speed and ankle-breaking moves in the open field. Of Patterson’s 469 receiving yards in 2013, 293 were recorded after the catch. With over 50 percent of his yards coming after the catch, Patterson has established himself as a lethal weapon with the football in his hands.
Patterson not only has the ability to break away from defenders as a receiver, but he also proved that he is dangerous out of the backfield as well. In just 12 rushing attempts, he recorded 158 yards, good for a 13.2 yard-per-carry average. Patterson’s unique ability to score from anywhere on the field and anywhere he is lined up forces opposing defenses to account for him each and every time he is on the field.
New Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner is known as one of the most creative and successful offensive minds in the NFL. His creative offensive genius coupled with Patterson’s unrivaled playmaking ability will only add to Patterson’s quickly growing list of highlight-reel plays.
Opposing defenses already are forced to put a heavy focus on not letting running back Adrian Peterson beat them. Patterson may not need any added help to beat opposing defenses, but he will have it as opposing defenses will likely be caught out of position trying to stop Peterson.
While Patterson will never be able to replace Moss in the hearts of Vikings fans and may never become the one-man offense that Percy Harvin once was, he is a unique, electric athlete capable of blowing a game open in the blink of an eye. He will improve as a route runner and a pass catcher this season and quickly establish himself as one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL.
It is a new era in Vikings football, and regardless of whether it is Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater under center in for the Vikings in 2014, Patterson will establish himself as a superstar wide receiver and dynamic offensive threat.