Carolina’s Dilemma: Picking First In A Weak Draft

Written by Ryan Lownes on February 2, 2011


 

 

Coming into the season Patrick Peterson was touted as a rare physical specimen, the best Defensive Back in the country, and the elusive Top 5 prospect at the Cornerback position. Despite lofty expectations, he managed to live up to the billing. Peterson was named a First Team All-American, was the winner of the prestigious Thorpe Award, and also added a Bednarik Award to his shelf as the nation’s top defender. By midseason most casual fans knew him as one of the most dynamic talents in college football. He became an Internet celebrity due to his astounding punt returns and even garnered a bit of Heisman Trophy hype early on. It was a no-brainer for him to declare for the NFL draft after the season and a decision that could not have shocked any within the program or fan-base.

 

Not every year do we see such a physical specimen that has started to put it together on the field the way Patrick Peterson has. At roughly 6’1 210, he possesses the size to matchup against any pro receiver. He’s chiseled, he’s long, and he plays to his size, often covering his opponents’ biggest receiver. His incredible physique may only be eclipsed by his ability to run. Simply put, the guy can flat-out fly. Peterson is a shocking athlete with great explosiveness, agility, coordination, and straight-line speed. Though teams will rarely challenge him, he has displayed terrific ball-skills and anticipation when the ball leaves the Quarterback’s hand. He’s a very good tackler capable of delivering powerful hits. There is some concern about the fluidity of his hips, but he should be able to answer those questions at the NFL Combine, where he will show up roughly 10 pounds lighter than his 2010 playing weight (220.)

 

Some draft analysts may begin to refer to Patrick Peterson as the Calvin Johnson of the Cornerback position, and I can’t say I disagree. Where Johnson was the prototype receiver, Peterson appears to be the prototype corner. He has everything teams look for when scouting a Defensive Back and will have a chance for NFL stardom at any position he plays. There are no schematic limits to his abilities and the absence of an injury history makes him one of the safer top picks in this draft class. Peterson will likely come off the board within the first five picks on draft day. He could be the highest rated Cornerback prospect since Charles Woodson coming out of Michigan.

 

Pros

+ Tremendous closing speed, very fast in straight-line
+ Great agility, quick feet, changes directions well moving forward
+ Very good ball skills; great anticipation, hands, and awareness
+ Shutdown corner down the field, not one to try to throw over
+ Solid, secure, wrap-up tackler capable of making crushing hits
+ Has size at roughly 6’1 210 to challenge any pro receiver
+ Smart football player who doesn’t give up a lot down the field
+ Possesses startling physique, both chiseled and long-limbed
+ Naturally incredible athlete with fluidity & sprinters speed
+ Dynamic with the ball in his hands; a threat to go the distance every chance he gets
+ Strong enough to outmuscle even big receivers for jump-balls
+ Is big and physical enough to re-route receivers at the line
+ Versatile; talent will allow him to play anywhere in the defensive backfield
+ Offers Special Teams value, returned both punts and kicks at a high-level
+ Productive and highly decorated, First Team All-American, Thorpe Award winner
+ Very durable, has no significant injury history to this point
+ Consistently battled the most gifted receivers in the nation in the SEC
+ High character; humble, well-spoken, motivated, and mature
+ Can play right away, should be able to contribute from day one
+ Finished college with 30 career starts

 

Cons

- Will have to prove the fluidity of his hips at the NFL Combine
– Gave up a lot underneath to Alabama’s Julio Jones and Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller
– Could stand to improve his open-field tackling a bit
– Got off easy this year in the SEC not having to face A.J. Green or Alshon Jeffery
– Might have been carrying a bit too much weight this season at 220+
– Plays at a position rarely deemed worthy of a Top 5 Overall selection

 

Why the Panthers will select Patrick Peterson First Overall

If the Carolina Panthers choose not to re-sign Richard Marshall, or are unable to, then Patrick Peterson makes a whole lot of sense with the first pick. In a passing league, or more importantly a passing division, a lockdown corner can be invaluable. Without Marshall in the picture, the team lacks a player capable of sticking their opponents’ best receiver week-in and week-out. Peterson is a rare talent at the position and perhaps the caliber of player we won’t see for years to come. Newly appointed Head Coach Ron Rivera will make sure the secondary won’t be operating with gaping holes in 2011, and Patrick Peterson could be exactly the type of elite talent to make a huge difference in Carolina for the next decade.

 

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Ryan Lownes

Ryan is currently an undergraduate student at Ohio University pursuing a degree in Sport Management. He has been attending the NFL Draft in New York City since 2005 and has aspirations of a career in scouting. He is currently a draft writer and analyst on the Draft Breakdown team, posting his latest rankings, mock drafts, scouting reports, and more. Be sure to follow Ryan on twitter for year-round NFL Draft analysis. See all posts by Ryan Lownes.