FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga – When the Minnesota Vikings drafted Cordarrelle Patterson out of Tennessee in the first round in 2014, it was because of his skill as a pass catcher and explosiveness after the catch.
Eight years later, Patterson is making plays as a running back while still rocking the typically wide-receiver number in 84. Patterson has taken the bulk of carries in the Falcons backfield with 140 on the season and leads all backs with 579 yards and six touchdowns.
Patterson still makes some plays at receiver, though, like when he scored the Saints for a 65-yard catch with under a minute remaining in week eight that set up a game-winning Younghoe Koo field goal. Patterson leads the team in receiving touchdowns with six and has 49 receptions for 523 yards on the year, the most receiving yards he has had in his career.
His play has caught the attention of many around the league, and the latest player to reign praise for Patterson is Bills wide-receiver, Stefon Diggs.
"He's probably the most talented person I've ever seen with the ball in his hand besides Adrian Peterson," Diggs said ahead of their matchup with the Falcons this Sunday. "He's up there like guys like – to me in my opinion, just put because I played with him – a guy like Dalvin Cook and those running backs."
Diggs and Patterson shared the wide-receiver room in Minnesota for two years. Diggs still remembers how then-wide receivers coach George Stewart was always impressed by what Patterson could do at 6-foot-2 225-pounds.
"[Stewart] used to say you're too strong, too fast, and too big," Diggs recalled. "He's one of those guys, you know, extremely talented who can play all around the field and just, you know, like really just a generational talent."
Patterson and Diggs have kept in touch since Minnesota, and Patterson jokingly took the compliments with a grain of salt.
"I think he's just blowing smoke up my ass, man," Patterson said with a laugh. "I appreciate that, man, seriously. …That's my guy."
Patterson was quick to acknowledge Diggs' talent too.
Diggs has had five straight thousand-yard receiving seasons, including last season's league-high 127-reception 1,535 yard receiving season. In the Bills win over the Patriots last week, Diggs had seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Patterson knows they will need to slow down Diggs for the Falcons to have a chance on Sunday.
"He's an animal," Patterson said. "We gotta stop 14."
And maybe Patterson will have a chance to line up across Diggs next week, or at least be in the secondary.
Patterson played safety at the end of the first half of last week's win over Detroit. He lined up close to the end zone to stop any deep passes. Even Arthur Smith has even listed Patterson on the depth chart as a reserve safety.
"I was back there last week [but] they was scared to throw it to me," Patterson said. "They throw it to me; I'm gone catch it."
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