Cordarrelle Patterson - The Rise of an NFL Swiss Army Knife: The Cordarrelle Patterson Story - 27/Mar/2024

Cordarrelle Patterson – The Rise of an NFL Swiss Army Knife: The Cordarrelle Patterson Story – 27/Mar/2024

The Rise of an NFL Swiss Army Knife: The Cordarrelle Patterson Story

Cordarrelle Patterson has emerged as one of the National Football League’s most versatile and dynamic athletes. Since entering the league, he has carved a unique niche for himself as a player who can profoundly impact the game in multiple positions – as a wide receiver, running back, and special teams return specialist. With a career marked by notable highs and groundbreaking versatility, Patterson’s journey through the NFL underscores the value of adaptability and athleticism in professional football.

Early Years and College Dominance

The Making of a Multi-Talent

Cordarrelle Patterson’s athletic journey began in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he was born on March 17, 1991. Even in his formative years as an athlete at Northwestern High School, Patterson’s natural talents shone through, although he didn’t dominate the scene immediately. It was in junior college that his potential started garnering widespread attention.

A Junior College Phenom

After struggling to garner major college offers out of high school, due to academic eligibility issues, Patterson attended Hutchinson Community College. Here he made a name for himself nationally. Dominating the junior college ranks both as a receiver and kick returner, Patterson garnered enough acclaim to be recognized as one of the most talented and exciting players to watch.

Knoxville Bound: A Tennessee Volunteer

Transitioning to the University of Tennessee in 2012, Patterson only required one season of Division I football to impress NFL scouts. His year with the Volunteers was nothing short of spectacular – setting records and earning All-American honors. He became known for his explosive speed, remarkable agility, and the ability to score from anywhere on the field.

NFL Draft and Early Professional Career

A Promising Start with The Vikings

Cordarrelle Patterson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. With expectations riding high, it wasn’t long before he exhibited traits that would define his career: versatility and special teams brilliance. He earned All-Pro honors as a rookie return man while showing flashes of promise as a wide receiver.

In Search of a Defining Role

Despite his early success in Minnesota, consistency as a receiver eluded Patterson. Over the next few years, Patterson cycled through various roles and positions but maintained his reputation as a superb kick returner – a role in which he would find consistent success and praise.

A Versatile Journeyman: Multiple Teams, Multiple Roles

Throughout subsequent stints with teams including the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, and Chicago Bears, Patterson’s career trajectory painted him as more journeyman than superstar. However, with each move, he garnered expertise in new roles – an evolution from wideout to backfield threat that challenged traditional position labels.

Atlanta Falcons – The Running Back Revelation

A Surprise Transition to the Backfield

With his move to the Atlanta Falcons in 2021, Cordarrelle Patterson underwent yet another metamorphosis – this time from a specialized return man to a full-fledged running back threat. Combining his receiving skills with newfound rushing abilities made him an all-purpose weapon for the Falcons, reinvigorating his career and showcasing just how effectively he could pivot within the sport.

The Unprecedented Utility Player

By playing at running back with the proficiency that echoed his success on special teams, Cordarrelle Patterson inadvertently opened up discussions about player utility and offensive schemes in modern NFL playbooks. In diverse offensive sets, his unique skill set enabled coaching staffs to use him in unexpected ways.

Legacy and Impact on The Game

Changing Perspectives on Player Utility

Patterson’s winding path through the NFL has brought about larger conversations regarding athlete utilization. In an era increasingly focussed on specialized roles, his success across positions adds credence to arguments for multi-talented players receiving greater on-field opportunities.

Career Milestones and Accolades

Arguably one of the NFL’s all-time greatest kick returners by multiple measures and statistics, including touchdowns returned for kickoffs – Patterson has solidified himself in the record books. His versatility has led to four Pro Bowl selections and multiple All-Pro team distinctions.


  • Cordarrelle Patterson holds the NFL record for longest kickoff return touchdown with 109 yards.
  • He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection (2013, 2016, 2019, 2020) and has been named First-Team All-Pro three times (2013, 2016, 2019).
  • Attending Hutchinson Community College allowed him to circumvent academic restrictions out of high school before showcasing his skills at Tennessee.
  • After joining the Atlanta Falcons in 2021, Patterson experienced a career revival with increased use in both the rushing and passing game.
  • As of 2023, he is tied for first place among players with eight kickoff returns for touchdowns in his NFL career.
  • Image Description: An action shot from an NFL game capturing Cordarrelle Patterson mid-stride as he rushes with the ball passed defenders. He is wearing an Atlanta Falcons uniform with striking red helmets glistening under stadium lights; determination visible on his face single-mindedly moving towards the endzone.