Sunday slant: Work ethic to define Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson's raw athleticism is extremely intriguing and he has a receivers coach ready to work closely with him. The rest is up to Patterson to determine how good he wants to be.

Cordarrelle Patterson has the height. He is 6-foot-2.

He has the size. He is 220 pounds.

He has the quickness and speed. He clocked a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

All of those desirable traits in an NFL receiver are obvious watching Patterson in highlight films, in person at the NFL Scouting Combine and again at Vikings rookie minicamp. What isn't known yet is how dedicated he is to improving what is a raw pedigree that has lacked much major-college instruction.

That was the knock on him at Tennessee, according to NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he hadn't heard that concern, but the Vikings do know that Patterson's lack of experience – he spent only about five months at Tennessee as a junior college transfer who declared himself eligible for the draft after his junior season – will be a hurdle to overcome.

"He does have a unique skill set with the ball in his hand. The route refinement and all the stuff I know will come, just like any rookie coming in at any position," general manager Rick Spielman said after drafting Patterson. "They're going to need to learn the nuances and the technique of this game. But once we get him in here and get working with him, I think all that will work its way through."

The key will be receivers coach George Stewart, who has been influential already. He gained Patterson's trust in the predraft process, telling him the Vikings would draft him if he was available and then following up with Patterson when the team traded away four draft picks to move back into the first round to eventually get him.

Stewart tried to be sure his draft prize would be ready for this weekend immediately after the Vikings gave away their second-day draft picks to get him.

"I expect you to be a pro when you get in here. So, let's handle our biz (business) and let's be ready to roll," Stewart told Patterson on the phone after Spielman drafted him No. 29 overall.

The Stewart mentoring program continued this weekend. Patterson just as easily been attached to Stewart when he was on the sideline during the team's rookie minicamp.

There was Stewart telling Patterson to move from a walk to a jog when coming off the field in between plays. There was Stewart enticing Patterson to "find work" – meaning go block for your teammate – on a running play to the far side of the field. And there was Stewart calming talking technique throughout Patterson's first day of camp.

"This is my job now. I learned that at Tennessee. You have to go in and get it because it's not given to you. I had to work hard at Tennessee and I'm going to work harder here," Patterson said. "At Tennessee, I wasn't where I needed to be. And now I'm here and I got a great coach. And I had a great coach at Tennessee to get me where I'm at."

No doubt, the tools are there. During Friday's practices it was easy to see what the Vikings found so intriguing about him. Raw as he may be running routes and understanding complex offensive adjustments, the athleticism is wildly intriguing.

The moves seen on YouTube highlights were displayed in practice sessions once the ball is in his hands. He has the ability to break open and make defenders miss with sudden starts and stops.

The surrounding cast also seems to be in place. In addition to Stewart, Patterson has a mentor on the field once the rookie returns for organized team activities on May 28, when he will join the veterans. Once of those the Vikings will undoubtedly call upon is seven-year NFL veteran Greg Jennings.

"I'm excited to work with him. I hope he's ready to work. I hope he's ready to jump right in," Jennings said. "I'm not a fan of treating a rookie like a rookie. It's all about the guy who knows the least, getting him up to speed just as quick as the guy who knows the most in the room. So that's the mindset I'm taking – hopefully that's his approach. I've already reached out to him. I'm looking forward to working with him."

"… That's what a good vet does. I had good vets in front of me. So, I expect to do nothing but that."

Vikings fans certainly hope Patterson turns out better than the 2005 gamble they took on a wide receiver in the first round – Troy Wiliamson. After running a blazing 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2005, Williamson shot up draft boards and the Vikings picked him No. 7 overall.

His career turned out to be a bust, and he recently spoke with Viking Update about that for an upcoming magazine story on him. The pressure, he admits, is on all draft picks.

"There's pressure regardless of where you are picked," Williamson said. "There's pressure to make the team if you are a later-round pick or there's pressure to be ‘the guy.' It's all pressure no matter where you get picked because you still have to make the team or be a player. Pressure either way."

Patterson shows no signs of struggling to catch the ball, as Williamson did throughout his stay in Minnesota and he is much more elusive in the open field, even if Williamson had the straight-line advantage in speed.

The Vikings are hoping Patterson turns out more like the last receiver they took in the first round – Percy Harvin in 2009 – at least on the field and with the athleticism. Certainly, there will be an opportunity for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to use some of the same plays he manufactured to get the ball in Harvin's hands.

"We'll have to wait and see," Musgrave said. "But (Patterson) definitely has a uniqueness with the ball in his hands. He can make people miss and get all the yards that are there and even more that go beyond the chalk on the chalkboard."

It's there for Patterson to become a star in the league. He's already been blessed with the athletic gifts. It's a matter of what he does with them.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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