Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-foot-2, 216 pounds. Percy Harvin is 5-foot-11, 184 pounds.
Simply looking on paper, there wouldn't seem to be that much in common. Patterson has the height and size, but the Vikings also saw a player that can do many of the same things Harvin did.
Patterson and the Vikings are careful to avoid too many comparisons, and certainly there will be differences in their roles. But it's also clear that Patterson can do many of the same things that Harvin brought to the team – receiving first and foremost, but also taking carries out of the backfield and returning kicks.
"Percy's a great athlete. I can't say I can take his role. He did some great things that I feel I can do. He did it all," Patterson said, but … "Tennessee, they showcased me like he did."
In only one season at Tennessee, Patterson had 46 receptions for 778 yards (16.9-yard average) and five touchdowns catches. He also had 24 kickoff returns for 671 yards (27.9-yard average), four punt returns for 101 yards (25.3-yard average) and 25 rushes for 308 yards (12.3-yard average). The averages stand out as much as anything in his versatile role.
"I want to throw one. I haven't threw a touchdown yet. At Tennessee, we tried to have me throw it a couple times, but I couldn't throw it up. I had one completion, but it wasn't a touchdown. I wanted a touchdown," Patterson said with a big smile.
Patterson has incredible quickness and elusiveness for a big receiver and is effective in end-arounds and bubble screens, many of the same things that had Harvin being talked about as a potential MVP candidate last year before his season ended with injury and intrigue.
The philosophy with Harvin was simple: Get the ball in his hands as quickly as possible and let his slippery moves do damage to the defense. Watching video of Patterson, he looks like a bigger Harvin in both the way he eludes defenders and the way he was used at Tennessee. Could it be more of the same for him here in Minnesota?
"We'll have to wait and see, but he definitely has uniqueness with the ball in his hands," Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "He can make people miss and get all the yards that are there and even more that go beyond the chalk on the chalkboard.
"We want to be difficult to defend, and so if we can use a young man's talents and at the same time be difficult to defend, that really helps us."
Although he only played one season of major college football at Tennessee after taking the junior college route, Patterson doesn't have many doubts about his abilities.
"I feel like when I get the ball in my hands, I feel like I'm so special with it. So I feel like I can bring a lot to (the Vikings)," he said.
For all of his obvious athletic gifts, there was a reason Patterson was still available at No. 29. His lack of big-time experience is one of them, and at Tennessee there were some scouts that felt he wasn't a hard worker.
"I hear so much stuff about me, but I don't pay attention to it," he said.
Musgrave said he hadn't heard that about Patterson, either.
Still, when asked what the biggest challenge would be making the jump to the NFL level, Patterson didn't talk about the speed of the game or size of the opposing defenders.
"My biggest challenge will be that I will have to come in and work hard every day," he said. "The first thing I will have to do is get into that playbook and start learning the different coverages and hook up with the quarterback and a couple of receivers and get ready to work."
The free agent acquisition of Greg Jennings, a respected veteran presence, should help Patterson acclimate to the NFL.
"It's going to be great. I heard Greg said that whoever we draft in this class, he wants them to sit right beside him in the meeting room and just come under his wing. I think it will be a great experience learning from him."
The questions with Patterson have nothing to do with size, speed or athleticism. It's all about getting him incorporated into the offense and seeing just how much of the Harvin role he can consume. The quicker that happens, the better off the passing offense will be.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Cordarrelle Patterson: A bigger Harvin?
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