The conversation that sold Leslie Frazier on Cordarrelle Patterson's ability to play in the NFL had little to do with football.

The Vikings used one of their 30 player interviews at the NFL scouting combine on the wide receiver, and in that 15-minute meeting, Frazier tried to get a better sense of Patterson as a person. So he listened to him discuss his path through prep school and junior college to one season at Tennessee and decided that whatever football polish Patterson lacked could be refined.

"Hearing him talk about some of the things he had gone through to get to where he is now, you get a feel that this guy has a purpose," Frazier said. "He understands what's important. Just hearing the story kind of convinced me he would be a good fit for us."

Patterson's talent and drive were enough for the Vikings to trade four draft choices to the New England Patriots and pluck him with the 29th overall pick last week. At the rookie minicamp that began Friday, May 3, they started seeing what they can cull out of a gifted 22-year-old who hadn't played a down of major college football at this time last year.

Patterson declared for the draft after his only season at Tennessee, with the size (6 feet 2) and speed (he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds) that could attract a high pick. If he were more experienced, or had overcome questions about his ability to understand offensive schemes, he might not have been there at No. 29. Instead, the Vikings got a potentially dynamic receiver, and position coach George Stewart got a big project.

Stewart, who began his career working with Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens in San Francisco, met Patterson at the Vikings' top-30 prospect event in early April. Stewart said he came away believing he had a chance to work with a special talent. He called Patterson the day before the draft and told him, "If you're there, I'm going to come and get you."