The Raiders signed enigmatic wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to a two year deal that can void after this season depending upon his production. He was drafted in the first round ( 29th overall ) in the 2013 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota gave up a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th round pick for the pick they used to draft Patterson.
For that small bounty the Vikings got 132 receptions for 1,316 yards and 7 touchdowns. He added 333 yards on 31 carries and an additional 4 touchdowns. His main contribution came on Special Teams where he had 134 kick returns for 4,075 yards and an incredible 5 touchdowns.
The Raiders hope to succeed where Minnesota failed in turning Patterson into a complete wide receiver. While Patterson is an absolute terror in space, his attention to detail and overall effort have held him back. His struggles are not entirely his fault as he did have 2 Head Coaches, 3 Offensive Coordinators, and 6 quarterbacks in his four years. The quality and consistency of the current coaching staff could be the spark Patterson needs to reach his potential.
“We’re just excited to get our hands on him” Head Coach Del Rio said. “He’s an explosive young man. He’s really eager to involve himself in the system and look at the different ways we can get the ball in his hands. We’ll continue to grow throughout this offseason. Get more familiar with him and some of his strengths and some of the things we can take advantage of with him.”
Any conversation on Patterson has to start in the return game. He led the NFL last season averaging 31.7 yards per kick return and currently holds the NFL record for longest kick return at 109 yards. He is the most dangerous kick returner in the NFL which this coaching staff witnessed first hand.
The 6-2, 216-pound receiver could also take over Andre Holmes now vacant gunner position on punt coverage. His speed could help win critically important field position battle. Expect Jalen Richard to continue punt returns as Patterson has only returned one punt in his 4 year career.
When you hear an analyst talk about a WR ‘improving his route running’, they are talking about precision. All offenses have elements of the West coast offense in them. The short and intermediate routes especially. A wide receiver must run a route the same way every snap or the timing of the route will be off. The quarterback must trust the receiver to be at an exact spot at an exact time. This can only be accomplished through repetition.
Patterson did not put in the time or effort necessary to perfect this area of his craft. A fresh start, with a leader on offense like Derek Carr could be the incentive for him to do so.
That being said, Minnesota was not creative in how they utilized Patterson. He does seem to have good hands and at times runs crisp routes. He simply needs to run them crisply every snap. Here he runs a good post route. He gets inside position on his man and makes a solid catch in traffic.
On tape it seemed like Minnesota’s coaching staff either did not trust him or simply we not creative enough to utilize him. Raiders Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing doesn’t seem to have that problem.
“Guys like that, you just find a way to get them the rock and let them do the rest of the work” Downing said. “He’ll make me look good. I’ll call a simple play and he takes it the distance and all of a sudden it’s like I did something special. Hopefully you guys are writing about that this fall.”
Despite any weakness in Patterson’s skill set, ‘taking it the distance’ is what he does. There are only a few players with that special ability to score from anywhere on the field. If one guy is out of his lane or loses containment, Cordarrelle will make them pay for it.
Perhaps the best news for the Raiders is despite Amari Cooper being the only wide receiver on the roster they have spent a draft pick on, they have a deep group. Even if Patterson becomes nothing more than a star on special teams, they have plenty of options for the number 3 and 4 receivers.
Will Cordarrrelle Patterson will be a threat on offense?
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It doesn’t matter, there are other weapons on offense