Chris Cook has spent much of his first three seasons – when he has been healthy – covering some of the best and biggest receivers the NFL has to offer. Two of them, Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Chicago's Brandon Marshall, reside in the NFC North, forcing Cook to face them twice a year.
Johnson is 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds, about as big as elite receivers come in the NFL. Marshall is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. That should leave Cook, the Vikings' remaining incumbent starting cornerback, knowing what he is talking about when it comes to talented big-bodied receivers in the NFL.
Interestingly, Cook has already labeled Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings' first-round receiver, as "elite."
"Oh, he's good. He's elite, man. He's fast. He's really fast. He's a confident guy, too, and he's willing to learn," Cook said. "All of our rookies are willing to learn. That's one good thing about all of them. They all ask questions, even Cordarrelle."
Patterson is considered raw in his techniques because of only one season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, at Tennessee. But asking questions at his level is considered a good thing.
Cook said Patterson's question was a technical one about a block he missed, and Cook told him how to make up for the initial mistake with better technique.
"Those are things that will help our team as we go along, especially since the younger guys are asking older guys questions all the time, no matter if it's offensive guys asking the defensive guys or vice versa," Cook said.
"I feel like it's a respect thing. I feel like if he was beating me all the time he wouldn't be asking me questions, but I've been doing pretty good as far as covering receivers. I feel like he thinks I know a little something about the position. Hopefully I do. I feel like it's just a respect thing. Once players see that other players can play, they want to know everything that they know. That's just part of the game."
At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Patterson doesn't have quite the size of Johnson or Marshall, but he has displayed very reliable hands and a willingness to go get the ball in traffic, a sign that he could be used at several receiver positions once he becomes more familiar and comfortable with the offense.
But the skill that has impressed most of the Vikings about Patterson is his speed. That part isn't "elite" when measured against other top receivers in the 40-yard dash. But some of his teammates have indicated Patterson has impressive game speed, even if his 4.4 speed falls short of elite status.
"From what I've seen with him, he has build-up speed. He doesn't start off fast as a Percy Harvin. Percy goes from zero to a hundred now. (Patterson) takes a few steps to build up, but once he's going, his stride is so long he can eat up ground on you fast and it's very deceptive speed."
In his only season at Tennessee, Patterson had 46 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns, but he also carried the ball 25 times for 308 yards and averaged 27.96 yards on 24 kickoff returns, the second-best career average in Volunteers history.
But with only one season of major-college coaching, it's no surprise what Patterson has to improve.
"Probably his route-running a little bit, but I'm not the judge of that. I'm not the receivers coach, but he could probably work on his route-running," said Cook, whose assessment there echoed some of the predraft assessments on Patterson. "We could all fine-tune some things. It's always the little things that you need to work on."
Apparently speed isn't one of those, and Cook, as the one who coveraged Patterson a fair amount in offseason practices, should know.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Cook believes Patterson is ‘elite' already
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