KNOXVILLE — The wait for Cordarrelle Patterson extended late into Thursday night.
The patience eventually paid off for the former Tennessee receiver.
The Minnesota Vikings traded picks in the second, third, fourth and seventh rounds to New England to move back up into the first round and take Patterson with the 29th pick of the NFL draft’s first round.
“You look at the production, was it there? After the catch, in space, this kid is a guy that almost looks like a running back with the ball in his hands,” analyst Mel Kiper said on ESPN’s telecast. “I think his hands are pretty good overall. He adjusted to some poorly thrown balls as well.
“The route-running and the attention to detail as a wideout needs to be developed.”
The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Patterson, who set Tennessee’s single-season all-purpose-yardage record in his lone year with the Volunteers after transferring from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, was the third receiver taken in Thursday’s first round.
"It means a lot to me," Patterson told the Associated Press. "From not expecting to be on the Vikings, it was great to see all that they gave up to get me. I feel like I can be a great player for them."
In a draft heavy on offensive and defensive linemen, the St. Louis Rams traded up to select West Virginia’s Tavon Austin with the No. 8 overalll pick, and Houston picked Clemson’s DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins with the 27th pick.
Patterson, who was invited to the draft by the NFL, became the 11th Tennessee receiver selected in the first round and the 44th Tennessee receiver selected overall, and he became the Vols’ first first-round pick since 2010, when Kansas City took safety Eric Berry with the fifth pick and Arizona selected defensive tackle Dan Williams at pick No. 26.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman actually left a meeting with the Minnesota media to execute the trade with the Patriots to land Patterson.
"We felt, besides Tavon Austin, he was the most explosive playmaker with the ball in his hand, and we had talked about potentially moving up to try to go get him tomorrow, but when something came to fruition tonight while I was talking to you guys, we wanted to jump on that," Spielman told reporters later.
"We were very, very aggressive to go do that, just because I know what he can do as a receiver, but especially what he can do as a potential kickoff and punt returner, because he is magic in that area as well."
Asked if there were any reservations about trading four picks to move back up and draft Patterson, Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier answered, "Not really." The Vikings closed strong with three picks in the round's final 11. Florida defensive tackle surprisingly slid to Minnesota at No. 23, and the team took Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes two picks later.
"He was a guy we'd talked about a lot, along with some other guys," Frazier said at his post-draft news conference. "We talked about it after our second first-round pick, of the possibility of trying to come back and get him. It worked out.
"That's one of the things that Cordarrelle can provide: he's one of those guys who can return kicks. He was an excellent kick returner in college and has some potential to be a punt returner as well. What Sharrif and Xavier are able to do, those guys are impact players, and we're trusting they're going to have an impact on our defense and our defense this next season."
Once a top-15 pick in some mock drafts, Patterson’s stock slid heading into the draft due to questions about his mental ability to master playing receiver and his relative inexperience, though Kiper repeatedly has said he has “freakish” talent.
That talent was enough for Patterson to remain in the first round, where the Vikings took him in hopes he could help replace the production of Percy Harvin, who was traded to Seattle.
“With his hands on the ball, as a returner, he can be outstanding,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “I see Patterson as a very raw prospect. I think he’s got a long way to go.
“He’s got some growing up to do as a wideout. He’s got a great role model in Greg Jennings. He’s going to be an electrifying return man but a work in progress as a wideout.
The wait for fellow former Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter will continue into today’s rounds. Offensive lineman Dallas Thomas also could hear his name called tonight, and the wait also continues for quarterback Tyler Bray, tight end Mychal Rivera and others.
Da’Rick Rogers, the former Calhoun High School star who finished his career at Tennessee Tech after he was dismissed from the Vols program, also is a possibility.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...