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WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson analysis, how he fits with Raiders

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Cordarrelle Patterson

6'2", 220 lbs
4.45s 40 yard
5th year
University of Tennessee


First Impressions

  • Suddenness
  • High speed change of direction is fantastic.
  • Skills seem more like a tall RB than WR
  • Runs better with the ball that without
  • Explosive, gears up to full speed quickly
  • Ankle breaker and Angle breaker
  • Track background? when gets into open field, hits track form
  • Small hands (9") but does not show problems with double-catching; however, often body catches (a la Darius Heyward-Bey).
  • Run plays from RB position
  • Lots of Screens and short/underneath routes
  • Can run deep and seems to be very good at tracking the ball in the air
  • Most trouble seems to be in setting up defenders, and getting into/out of breaks
  • Despite great speed, has trouble getting separation from defenders
  • Most success comes when he gets the ball quickly and can escape defenders
  • Battler, hard-running mindset fits nicely with how Seth Roberts and Michael Crabtree run after catchOffensive Fit

Played under Bill Musgrave in 2013 and ran many of the same screen plays that Amari Cooper ran in his rookie year. Familiarity in offense, may help transition to Raiders' offense. Notably that the terminology may be same or similar (depending on how much continuity that new OC Todd Downing maintains).

Played under the following Offensive Coordinators :

Musgrave in 2013
Norv Turner in 2014-2015
Pat Shurmer in 2016 (after Turner stepped down)
Musgrave's offense grew to value flexible players. TEs that line up as WR, RBs that line up as WRs, WR that line up as RB.

Musgraves offense used a WR underneath in either a screen or fake screen; sometimes a RB filled this role. May be a nice place for Patterson.

Johnny Holton was used often for "gadget" plays which were mostly end-arounds / reverses or fakes to influence defensive leverage. Patterson may be able to fill this role and may be even more effective.

Musgrave began to use WRs lined up in the the RB position (either Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree). The most famous example was the double wheel route combination against Houston which led to a Jamize Olawale TD. The WR never received a handoff; if Patterson were to fill this role, a handoff to him is a viable option.

Can run some of Seth Roberts' underneath routes, like the drag and short pivot routes. And may be able to run some deep routes like deep post and sideline go.

On most of the other intermediate routes, he seems much less capable than Seth and possibly even Jaydon Mickens, who has flashed some potential in change of direction routes.

Most interesting fit will be how Patterson functions in conjunction with Amari and Crabtree. Can Patterson be used to help loosen coverage by either running a deep pattern or a short one while Amari runs an intermediate one?

This may be a challenge to new OC Todd Downing to figure out how best to use Cordarrelle Patterson's skills. Note that in his previous position as QB Coach, he has worked in Buffalo and Detroit and has worked with offenses that featured hybrid RBs :

Buffalo - Nathaniel Hackett, Had CJ Spiller (2014)
Lions - Scott Linehan, had Reggie Bush (2013), Jahvid Best (2010-2011)
Running Back-ish

Both Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington lined up in WR positions or motioned to the WR position from the backfield often in 2016. With Patterson, the team may have 3 players that can play a hybrid RB/WRs position.

This could allow for some spread 01/11 Personnel formations to cause some matchup problems.

11 Personnel is 1 RB, 1 TE. With Jalen/DeAndre as the RB and Clive Walford as the TE and 3 WRs, it may allow the offense to set up a LB mismatch with a 5 WR formation.

Alternately, a 01 Personnel group is 0 RB, 1 TE. With Patterson and Lee Smith and 3 WRs, defenses may choose to play in 5 or 6 defensive back (Nickel or Dime subpackage). This may allow Patterson to line up as a RB (similar to how the Patriots used to line up Aaron Hernandez as a RB or how Green Bay used Ty Montgomery last year) and run against lighter defenses.

Development

Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio have had a commitment to building the new Raiders' culture, a throwback culture of hard work, grinding. To that end, they have been extremely focused on bringing in high character and high effort players, particularly those that have something to prove and/or a chip on their shoulder. Players that are not just unafraid of hard work but men who are eager to address the challenge. This is one reason why they both love the UDFAs so much.

Patterson's attitude and mindset seem to perfectly fit. His first words were "I'm whatever you all need me to be." And while any player will say similar things immediately after signing their contract, reportedly, his character in Minnesota was very much true to this.

In just reviewing his play over the past few years, it's clear that he does have some difficulty running routes. This shows up with how little separation he gets in so many cases. He is certainly dynamic, athletic, explosive, and fast enough so that he should be able to get away from defenders. But there is something in his route running that allows opposing CBs to get a good read on his intentions.

There's very little deception in his routes.

For a player that is so devastating when running with the ball, Patterson struggles running without the ball.

This may stem from a difficulty in running at less than full speed. Releasing from the line and then getting into and out of breaks comes from running under control and at less than 100% speed. It is the threat of full acceleration that gets defenders to bail or bite. While it seems that Patterson tends to run at a very even, neutral speed when entering his breaks and "even rhythm" is very easy to recognize (which is why most dance music is a very even 4-4 tempo).

Amari, for instance, is very sudden and very disruptive in the way he enters and exits his breaks. His timing varies and his tempo and rhythm changes to suit his needs and we see the results when he gets a CB to run the wrong way and leave him wide open. It is very difficult to get a good read on Amari's route.

What is so odd about this is that Patterson exhibits fantastically disruptive running tempo when he is returning kicks. And we see the results when we see special teams coverage guys falling over themselves.

This may also exhibit itself in difficulties in running against zone defenses.

Amari Cooper is younger than Cordarrelle Patterson and has been in the league half the time, but Amari is among the more polished WRs in the entire league and his footwork is beautiful and precise and a total joy to behold. Amari Cooper's effectiveness doesn't come from the so called "natural" abilities, but it's the fit and finish of his technique that makes him so good.

Michael Crabtree is a natural vocal leaders and is also a fantastic technician. He offers a great potential mentor.

And even Seth Roberts.

Keep in mind how much this young man has progressed in his route running and overall development as a WR over the past 3 years. He's still a work in progress and the drills and work that he puts in may offer encouragement for Patterson to follow suit.

This group is under the tutelage of Rob Moore and Nick Holz and we may get to see how good of a coach they are.

Derek Carr Factor

In the past, Patterson has played WR in Minnesota with the following QB's :

Christian Ponder
Matt Cassell
Josh Freeman
Teddy Bridgewater
Sam Bradford
Some part of his development may have struggled because of some inconsistencies in the performance of the QB's as well as the adjustment to the many different QB's throwing to him.

Derek Carr's command and leadership in this offense is already impressive and it is growing. That kind of authority may make it much easier for Patterson to fit in as the offense is strongly established.

Derek is also a high-precision QB with a perfectionist attitude and a grinder mindset. Fans have seen the results with the significant evolution in the Derek to Amari Cooper passing game in 2016 compared to 2015. Notably, the sideline fade and the downfield attacking plays were more numerous and more effective. Timing improved tremendously and at times Amari looked untouchable.

This is the best situation for Patterson if he is willing and able to put in the effort to improve. Carr will spend the time to build chemistry and establish that timing. And he will give Patterson great catchable balls and give him a chance to make plays.

On the downside, there is a potential for drops. A major statistic that is brought up is that Patterson had very few drops in his career in Minnesota.

There is a possibility--perhaps even a likelihood--that during his adjustment period, Patterson could drop quite a few balls.

Derek has a golden arm and the ball just jumps out of his had with such a quick minimal prep. When that ball comes out, it can have some serious RPMs, far more than (for instance) Teddy Bridgewater who is much more a "touch passer" and who has a noticeably longer delivery. Additionally, Derek is an anticipation-thrower and will throw away from defenders in coverage. This can lead to very challenging situations where the ball gets on top of the receiver quickly. Patterson may need some time to adjust to this.

Additionally, Patterson ran almost exclusively sub-5 yard patterns last year (lots of screens). These are not challenging difficult passes to catch; in fact, they are more like RB routes than WR routes.

Patterson does show good hands when he catches, but he also body catches quite a bit. And his hands are measured at 9" which is very small. How small? Taiwan Jones' hands are 8 3/4" while Amari Cooper's are 10" (which is also the same size as Odell Beckham Jr's).

He may end up being a fantastic receiver and have no problem adjusting to Derek's delivery, but don't panic if he does.

Roster Fit and Cap Hit

Patterson signed a 2-year contract, with $5.25M in the first year. And the 2nd year voids if Patterson plays 65% of offensive snaps.

This indicates that Patterson wants to find a role as a full time WR and to be paid like it. On Reggie McKenzie's side, this functions as a 1-year 'prove It 'deal and if he doesn't prove it as a WR, then he will (likely) be spending his 2nd year as a pure returner.

As he works to rise up the WR depth chart and become an impact on offense, Patterson will be filling multiple key roles on special teams.

He is taking Andre Holmes' role of Punt Team Gunner and Taiwan Jones' role of Kick off Returner. This likely means that the Raiders will not be pursuing Holmes (who is being courted by Detroit, Chicago, and SF) and that this may be the final year for Taiwan Jones (who is in the final year of a 3 year $4.3M contract).

In 2016, Andre Holmes was paid $2M and Taiwan Jones was paid $1.1M.

At worst, Patterson is being paid a $2M premium for his potential contributions on offense.

This sets up a WR corps of

Amari Cooper
Michael Crabtree
Seth Roberts
Cordarrelle Patterson
which leaves Johnny Holton, Jaydon Mickens, and KJ Brent battling for either 1 or 2 spots, depending on how Coach Del Rio wants to allocate his resources.

In 2016 the Raiders carried 5 WRs but played mostly 3 and Andre Holmes only occasional getting in.

Before Lee Smith's injury the team had 9 OL on the roster with 7 active on game day. After the injury, when the team used Denver Kirkland as designated 6th OL, 10 OL with 8 active.

Carrying a 6th WRs means probably only keeping 7 OL, so this is something to keep an eye on.

There ends up being an curious competition between Vadal Alexander, Denver Kirkland, Jon Feliciano, Marshall Newhouse and Johnny Holton, Jaydon Mickens, and KJ Brent. Those 7 are fighting for perhaps 4 (active) roster spots.

Finale

Cordarrelle Patterson brings a sensational physical skill set and is fortunate to be stepping into a situation where he will be given every opportunity to develop into a true WR. At the same time, the offense may be adjusting to utilize his very unique abilities to make him into a matchup weapon.

His immediate and unquestioned impact will be on special teams, but from the nature of the contract to his demeanor, Patterson wants to impact the game from the offensive side of the ball.

It will be very exciting to see how the Raiders' young offensive corps is able to bring him in and how the offense may grow with Patterson contributing.

Here are his 5 kick off return TD's :