Cordarrelle Patterson is listed as a wide receiver, but the three-time All-Pro has a skill set that has prompted several coaches to utilize him in multiple areas. His three All-Pro honors have all come as a kickoff return specialist, but he has also lined up as a running back, a wideout, he was a second-team All-Pro as a defensive specialist on special teams, and he has gone on record as saying he could easily play tight end, as well.
While it’s been rumored the Chicago Bears will go after tight end Austin Hooper in free agency, Bears general manager Ryan Pace also said this week that he and head coach Matt Nagy have been talking about expanding the role of Patterson — and their plans for him specifically are interesting.
Could Cordarrelle Patterson Become a Running Back?
In separate meetings with the media in the NFL Scouting Combine, Pace and Nagy fielded questions for the first time since his team’s disappointing 8-8 season ended. Nagy noted that he felt “rejuvenated,” and seemed to suggest an openness to the opinions of others he hadn’t necessarily displayed in past media sessions.
Pace, for his part, singled out Patterson as a player who may see his snap count increase — and his role change slightly. “That’s a guy Matt [Nagy] and I have talked about, just making sure we’re maximizing his talent,” Pace said of Patterson. “Obviously, he’s an explosive, talented player. That can be at running back, receiver, returner. We’re going to make sure we’re getting the most out of that player because he’s too talented not to.”
After the Bears’ lack of a running game in 2019, it is noteworthy Pace mentioned utilizing Patterson as a running back specifically.
This season with the Bears, Patterson had just 17 carries for 103 yards. Considering he averaged 6.1 yards per carry and had multiple explosive runs, one of which he clocked in at over 22 mph, that seems far too low of a percentage. The Bears seemingly want to up his carries this coming season while also utilizing him in a multitude of creative running plays.
Over his NFL career, Patterson has 103 rushes for 785 yards and seven touchdowns, gaining an average of 7.6 yards every time he ran the ball.
He was an extremely effective runner in college, too, when given the opportunity. In his junior year at the University of Tennessee, serving primarily as a wide receiver, Patterson had 25 rushes for 308 yards and three touchdowns — that’s a ridiculous 12.3 yards per carry.
Patterson was one of the few bright spots for the Bears last season, and leaning on him more in the running game seems like a win-win for the team. His health is also excellent. In his seven seasons, Patterson has missed just one game and has had no major injuries, which is incredibly rare. Giving a play-maker like Patterson a go at running back — along with second-year power back David Montgomery — might just give the Bears’ running game the boost it needs.