NFL expert: Patterson tops list of players 'ready to make a leap'


Three Vikings made a list of the NFL's Top 25 players expected to make the leap in 2014.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was ranked 24th on the list, defensive end Everson Griffen was ranked 13th and Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson topped the list.

NFL.com writer Kevin Patra says Patterson displayed explosive playmaking in the return game, out of the backfield and improved in the passing game. Petra says his combination of size, speed and toughness make him tailor-made for today's NFL.

The 6-foot-2 dynamo is an amalgam of Devin Hester, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Spiderman and the Road Runner.

But Patterson wasn't the only Viking to make the list.

Griffen will have big shoes to fill along the defensive line. He signed a five-year $42-million contract in the offseason to become the Vikings starting right defensive end, the role previously held by Jared Allen.

Patra said it's evident why the Vikings are so high on a player with only one career start.

Griffen displayed all the characteristics in that one start that indicate he has the tools to be a full-time starting defensive end. Combined with unquestioned athleticism, Griffen has multiple methods to attack offensive tackles. He can bend the edge, shows a good bull rush, can keep a blocker's hands off him, and the man loves his spin move (especially on the inside).

Rhodes is also on the list, at No. 24. The Vikings second first-round pick in 2013 had some ups and downs in his first year on the field.

But Patra said with Mike Zimmer's track record of working with corners, there is reason for optimism.

The light went on late in the year, and there's reason to believe he'll improve dramatically in Year 2. New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has done wonders with cornerbacks far less talented than Rhodes, and Zimmer's preference for press man cornerbacks suits Rhodes' playing style.

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