This article was originally written in April, 2014 to be published on Dynasty League Football. After penning the piece, our excellent publisher (Ken Kelly) and I decided not to beat the issue over the head with another 1111 words (I already dedicated nearly 2000 of them a week prior). The article went in the vault and aside from Ken, the DLF partners, Karl Safchick and myself, it hasn't been read by anybody.
Nearly a year on, I've decided to publish it here. Why? Because I ended up being right and I want to gloat. I'm small, petty, and have a very large (fragile) ego, so this makes me feel pretty good about myself. Having your own website is pretty much an exercise in ego anyway, so why not?
Before reading this follow-up piece, we would suggest you take a look at the original article, “The Case Against Cordarrelle.”
Thanks for reading.
When I penned “The Case Against Cordarrelle”, I knew I’d have to field a number of harsh criticisms and tough questions. As prepared as I was for it, I was still overwhelmed by the sheer volume and range of the comments. While I did my best to answer each as carefully and concisely as possible, I thought it would be best to write a postmortem piece to address some of the more common refrains.
One of the things that surprised me most was the number of folks who looked past the main point of the article, taking away only that I hate Patterson (which is categorically untrue). In reality, the crux of the column was to relay how egregiously out of whack his price is considering his high risk nature. This brings me to a major point: People seem to be so invested in saying Patterson will either be great or terrible that they lose sight of the fact that no matter what you think of his potential, he is a long way from achieving it. This is a completely inarguable point that even the ardent supporters among the DLF crew all readily admit to. You would do well to follow suit.
The Case Continues
Due to my desire to keep the “Case” article as focused as possible, a number of small bits didn’t make the cut. All of these are criticisms that followed him out of college and throughout 2013:
· He catches the ball with his body. This leads to more drops than you’d like, especially in traffic or under duress. The actual data from Patterson’s rookie year doesn’t look so bad (three drops on 77 targets), but considering the nature of the vast majority of those targets (bubble screens, etc), that isn’t surprising. This is a clear case where stats do not tell the entire truth.
· He hasn’t shown the ability to high-point the ball. This is a skill critical to any receiver asked to be a deep threat, which many are suggesting he will be under Norv Turner.
· Patterson has issues getting a clean release at the line of scrimmage. Some of this is mitigated by the way he is being used, but it is still a significant issue that needs to be addressed.
· There is a startling lack of big-college/NFL experience. Most successful wide receivers get several years of high level coaching at the FBS level. Patterson had one. It isn’t his fault, but he is starting from well behind the 8 ball.
Another (Unkind) Comparable
The player Patterson reminds me of most from a pure skills standpoint isn’t Percy Harvin. To me, his explosiveness, vision, open field ability, and lack of polish closely resembles Devin Hester. Of course there is a significant size disparity, but Patterson actually plays smaller than he is (see the bullet points above). You can scoff at this comp all you want, but the fact is Hester ran faster and had a higher vertical. He was, and still is, raw and undeveloped as a pass catcher, and as the most prolific return man in history, the former Bear has proven his ability with the ball in his hands. Sounds a lot like Patterson, no?
Despite all of this, Hester never developed into much of a wide receiver. You may point to his offensive coordinators and how Norv Turner trumps them all, and that is a very fair point. On the other hand, as somebody who has seen every game of Hester’s career, I can tell you they force fed him the ball on quick slants, bubble screens, and hand offs to the point of detriment to the offense. Yet he had no fantasy success to show for it.
Can Patterson develop beyond what Hester was able to? Of course. But so many of you continue to beat the drum of his athleticism as though it alone will be enough to make him a fantasy asset. I’m sorry, but that is simply not true.
Comments and Criticisms
The comments largely fell into one of a few categories. My replies follow.
1. Route running can be taught: Of course it can. In equal measure, it isn’t always learned. Most of the time a rookie receiver with poor route running performed poorly in his rookie year and ends up with a fair market value as a result. In this case, Patterson had a mixed 2013 but is still being treated as an elite player. The assumption he will learn is already built into his price. It makes zero sense.
2. Norv Turner will be Patterson’s savior: This shows people chose to either ignore or disregard the statistics I presented. How you could look at Turner’s track record with receivers and come away with such blind optimism is a mystery I cannot solve.
Beyond that, the assumption Turner will use him as the X receiver/deep threat is based on nothing but blind faith. We have zero evidence Patterson can fill this role or that Turner wants him to. Assuming it will happen is a high risk proposition.
3. You are crazy man, I have Patterson as a WR3 and will keep him there: I said he is my WR28, which puts him smack-dab in WR3 territory. I wouldn’t start him as one this season, but that is what I think he will become. Also, if you have him as your WR3 and somebody will give you a WR1 price for him, why wouldn’t you do that deal? Am I missing something?
4. His athleticism is so transcendent the Vikings have to build around him: First of all, no it isn’t. Plenty of guys past and present are big, fast, and have quick feet. We all need to stop pretending he is the Viking God of Athleticism. Secondly, Norv is smart enough not to build around a player he no doubt knows isn’t ready for it. If he is half the coach I think he is, Turner will bring Patterson along slowly, not over-investing in the youngster as the focal point of the offense.
The Final Word on CP
It is important to remember that for all the players before Patterson who were called wide receivers without actually being one, none have ever ended up as a top player. Harvin had one season of significant results, but other than that, the cupboard is bare. If you still think his ability in conjunction with his coach is enough to launch him into the stratosphere, then good on ya! Me? I’ll believe it when I see it.