Years from now, those who were present during general manager Rick Spielman's press conference following the selection of Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes won't forget the abrupt end to the press conference.
While happily discussing the embarrassment of riches that the team had enjoyed with two players they had ranked well above where the Vikings landed them, one of the Vikings public relations assistants came to the side of the podium to get Spielman's attention. Pointing to his phone and giving the international signal to wrap things up quickly, Spielman unexpectedly put the press conference on hold and promised to return.
Within minutes, word began surfacing on social media that the Vikings were working a trade with the New England Patriots to get back into the first round for a third time.
Spielman was caught off guard, as was head coach Leslie Frazier, who had also left the war room to do an interview of his own.
"Actually, I was doing radio," Frazier said. "They came and started to signal to me to cut it short and it didn't know why. I soon found out why I needed to get back upstairs so we could discuss what was transpiring. It was well worth the discussion."
What they found was that the Patriots were willing to trade out of the No. 29 spot, which the Vikings wanted in order to draft wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Frazier and Spielman had discussed the potential of trying to get back into the first round, but the thought was that, if he made it through the first round, the effort would be to get back into the second round.
The Vikings gave up a lot to land Patterson – a second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round pick, but, as Spielman explained, it was the universal feeling of the Vikings war room that he was worth the price.
"We felt that, besides Tavon Austin, he was the most explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands," Spielman said. "We had talked about potentially moving up to try to get him (Friday), but when something came to fruition tonight while I was talking to you guys, we wanted to jump on that. We were very, very aggressive to go do that, just because I know what he can do as a receiver, but especially what he can do as a potential punt and kickoff returner. His is magic in that area as well."
While admittedly raw, the Vikings see several ways that Patterson can impact both the offense and special teams, with Spielman going as far as to say he could be just as impactful – if not more so – than Percy Harvin was in the kick return game.
"Not only is he going to give (the Vikings) a young receiver that you can bring along under the guidance of a Greg Jennings, under (wide receivers coach George Stewart) and under Bill Musgrave, but also replacing someone who is very difficult to replace – when we traded Percy," Spielman said. "But, this guy can do, we feel, just as much or more than Percy can as a returner. We're very excited at not only what he can bring as a receiver, but what he could potentially bring as a returner."
When Harvin was traded to Seattle, there was a clear void that was left in his wake. The signing of veteran Greg Jennings was a big piece in the replacement puzzle, but what Spielman and Frazier expect is that not only will Jennings be a go-to receiver, but also serve as a mentor in helping Patterson become an elite NFL receiver in his own right.
"Greg is the ultimate pro's pro," Spielman said. "I don't know if there is anyone who knows the game better at that position than Greg Jennings. To have a player like Greg Jennings on your roster to bring Patterson in under his wing and under his tutelage, I think is a huge part of this as well."
Frazier echoed that sentiment, saying that Jennings will serve as a de facto coach on the field and in practice to help tutor Patterson in his maturation process as a pro.
"If there was a chance of taking Cordarrelle or some of the others receivers, too, we thought that, because of their youth, having a guy like Greg in the room would be a plus for us," Frazier said. "It definitely factored in and we think because of Greg's veteran experience, the way he is as a person, that should benefit a guy like Cordarrelle. Not only him, but our other young receivers as well."
With a unique skill set, which Spielman summed up with the word "electric," big things are expected of the 6-foot-2 speedsters. But with only one year of major college experience after spending two seasons at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College, Patterson will have a significant learning curve. The Vikings already had a plan in place in the event a player like Patterson ended up on their roster. Schooling him up will be a group effort that will include a cast of many coaches.
"He's going to be a little bit farther behind in the nuances of the game because he was a J.C. kid and showed up on the campus at Tennessee in July and was there for basically four or five months," Spielman said. "This is a young kid. We've talked about this with Coach Frazier, with Coach Musgrave, with Coach Stewart, that, if we were able to land this kid, to have a specific game plan when he comes in here how we would be able to develop him, get him on the field and get the ball in his hands."
While the Vikings gave up a lot of picks to land Patterson, Spielman believes the ends will justify the means if Patterson becomes the dynamic playmaker the organization believes he can become.
"To get another pick in the first round and to get a player of that caliber that was still there, we felt that he could be that big of a difference-maker for us to go ahead and get it done," Spielman said.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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