Kevin C. Cox
Tennesee WR Cordarrelle Patterson is described as a 'natural playmaker', and could be one to watch at #14.
Wide receiver is not the Carolina Panthers most pressing need, but it could be when it comes to looking at the best player available. All of a sudden two receivers come into focus with the 14th overall pick. In 2011 there was A.J. Green and Julio Jones -- in 2013 there's Keenan Allen and Cordarrelle Patterson. Neither is as highly skilled as Green or Jones, but one analyst thinks that one of these receivers is a ‘sensible fit' for the Carolina Panthers.
A large write up by Evan Silva of Rotoworld could have you believe Cordarrelle Patterson is the most talented receiver in the draft, and a future star. Described as a ‘natural playmaker' his NFL comparisons are Dez Bryant and Julio Jones, with the latter perhaps being more apt. The 6-3, 205-pound receiver was Tennessee's playmaker when everyone expected Justin Hunter to assume the role. Averaging 16.9 yards per reception, Patterson showed the kind of big-play potential that NFL teams crave.
The tape supports this kind of natural ability, as pointed out by Silva:
Cordarrelle Patterson is a freak. There were times he looked genuinely un-tackle-able on tape. I charted him with 29 open-field opportunities across six games. He made the first defender miss on 20 of them. Many receivers are explosive vertically and run fast in a straight line. Patterson is explosive both vertically and laterally, and physical as all get out. I loved how he got skinny through tight spaces, regularly sending would-be tacklers grasping at air as they left their feet. Patterson's run-after-catch ability might be the best I have ever seen from a college wide receiver.
This is high praise, and if you've been looking for the Panthers to get an elite wide receiver - this could be the time. How is he available at the 14th pick though? Surely this type of write up would garner him more attention. Some believe he's not going to be a student of the game, others question his route running -- both of which aren't a concern for Silva in his tape study.
When I look at the tape I see a player with immense potential, but also a lot of risk. There is a leap of faith needed that he'll develop into a complete receiver, and show the kind of work ethic that Julio Jones did at the NFL level. Personally, I still prefer Keenan Allen -- but I'm also well aware of my shortcomings as a talent evaluation; namely that I tend to play it too safe. Truth be told, I think either Allen or Patterson would be an excellent addition to the Panthers offense.
We've seen in Dave Gettleman's past that he's been part of an organization who highly value the WR position, and a willingness to keep throwing picks at the position until it's solid. Nothing would better exemplify this than starting the trend in Carolina, with ample time to throw against the wall and hope something sticks prior to Steve Smith's eventual retirement.