It was week one of 2014 and the Minnesota Vikings were visiting the St. Louis Rams. A few weeks before, I had completed my first fantasy football draft and I was ecstatic about drafting who I thought was last season’s fantasy football sleeper: Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Late in the third quarter, Patterson made me look like a genius, as he scored on an explosive 67-yard touchdown run. He finished that game with 18 fantasy points.
Oh, how times have changed.
Now, Patterson finds himself in the forefront and the background simultaneously, on a team that many experts and analysts consider a legitimate playoff contender this season. When Patterson is mentioned, his talent is realized, but he is often labeled a “disappointment.”
Over the last nine games of 2014, Patterson justified that claim by catching only 14 passes and scoring zero touchdowns. In that span, the Vikings went 5-4 but were competitive in all nine games. Now, going into his third season, Patterson’s career is beginning to dwindle, as he is now on the Vikings’ second-team offense.
Where did it all go wrong?
As a rookie, Patterson was an all-pro because of his prowess as a kick returner, but even last season he was largely ineffective, returning no kicks for touchdowns after returning two his rookie season. The largest issue, however, was Patterson’s inability to become a traditional receiver, as his route-running was heavily scrutinized. Now, with the addition of Mike Wallace and the emergence of Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright, as well as the overall rising stock of the entire team, Patterson could be left behind.
There is no clear way of knowing, but what is apparent is that Patterson has improved his route-running, evident through his preseason performance. Yet, there have also been trade rumors and reports that Patterson was upset about playing in the Vikings final preseason game.
The Vikings make their regular season debut Monday night as they travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers, the same stadium where Super Bowl 50 will be played. While a long shot, the Vikings are considered a dark horse contender to reach the Super Bowl. Whether Patterson will contribute to the team’s journey in any significant way is unknown. For the former first round pick who made electrifying plays for the Vols in college, this season could potentially make or break the rest of his career.
Week one of 2014 seems so long ago, but it was a time when Patterson seemed to have such a promising future ahead of him. Despite his freakish athleticism and speed, his NFL career is beginning to outrun him and might leave him in the dust.
Edited by Cody McClure