Analysis: Cordarrelle Patterson is a special teams ace who could provide boost for Patriots

(Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

In the New England system, Cordarrelle Patterson projects as a part-time, Swiss-army knife of an offensive skill position player, but someone who could have a sizable impact as a kick returner.

Patterson, who turned 27 on Saturday, came into the league in 2013 as a first-round pick after a college career that saw spend two years Hutchinson Community College before a season at Tennessee. When it came to the draft, there was a whole backstory about him and whether or not he was destined to be a Patriot, and later on, operated under the belief that Bill Belichick disrespected him after a draft weekend trade. Belichick has never spoken badly of Patterson, at least not publicly. In 2014 before the regular-season opener a September game against the Vikings, Belichick had nothing but good things to say about the wideout.

“Patterson is obviously an explosive guy,” Belichick said of the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder. “You see that in the return game. He’s a deep threat. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, whether you hand it to him or throw it to him on a short pass. He’s a dangerous catch-and-run guy. He’s also a vertical guy.”

Offensively, Patterson had an up-and-down career with Minnesota, topping out in his final year with the Vikings (2016) when he had 52 catches on 70 targets for 453 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Last year in Oakland,