Patrick Peterson will undoubtedly be a player who inspires debate over the worth of a Cornerback in today’s NFL. He is an elite physical specimen in the secondary, with size and incredible natural athleticism. The 2010 Thorpe Award winner competed against the nation’s best receivers, displaying the physicality and ball skills that will translate quickly to the next level. Some even consider him to be this draft’s top talent. The notion of a Cornerback going in the first three picks is often disputed by history, but many feel the position’s value is on the rise due to an increasingly pass-happy game. While he may not make history as the first corner to go first overall, Peterson appears a virtual lock to be among the first seven picks on draft day.
Peterson is a rare playmaker in the defensive backfield that draws comparisons to Charles Woodson due to his excellent ball skills. In coverage he shows the anticipation, timing, and hands to make plays on the ball. Additionally, he has the explosiveness and speed to close gaps quickly. He is dangerous when he is able to locate the ball in the air. His leaping ability and body control is not often seen for a player his size. If he gets his hands on the ball, he can score from anywhere on the field.
There is no doubt that Peterson has the size and physicality to match up with any receiver, at any level. He has terrific movement skills, with elite speed and very good agility. However, too often he gets lost freelancing with his back to the ball. His hips are not completely fluid and at times he will play a bit high. In the NFL, he will have to improve his awareness in coverage. Still, he shows a competitive edge and exudes confidence. His greatest upside comes as a potential lockdown man corner.
It appears unlikely for a team to draft Patrick Peterson early in the draft to play in primarily zone coverage. Typically, zone cornerbacks are not worthy of Top 10 selection. That is not to say he could not be extremely in these defensive schemes as well. His zone awareness is certainly a cause for concern and he may be better off playing Free Safety, where he can keep the game in front of him. Still, he is very light on his feet, a talented ball-hawk, and displays enough physicality to succeed as a press-zone corner if drafted to do so.
Possessing the size of a small linebacker, it should come as no surprise that Patrick Peterson shows willingness as a tackler. He is a big, athletic defensive back capable of laying crushing hits. Despite all the raw ability you could ever ask for, he too often goes low and takes his eyes off the ball. As a tackler, he shows terrific range and can make plays that few at his position can. His durability in the past has no doubt contributed to his aggressive tackling.
For three years, Peterson has aggressively and willingly supported the run. Despite success at the college level, he must correct some tackling errors in order to be as effective as he could be. His size and strength from the corner position allow him to bring down backs in excess of 220 pounds. Though it could be improved, he was a productive open-field run supporter with 70% of his tackles recorded unassisted.
There is a growing concern that Peterson may have potentially outgrown the cornerback position. He definitely shows a bit of tightness in his hips when asked to change directions compared to say, Brandon Harris of Miami. However, despite average fluidity in his hips, he possesses excellent feet and balance. It appears he is quick and agile enough to run with any receiver at the next level. To reduce errors, he must do a better job at turning and locating the ball.
If there is something that Peterson has proven, it is that he will not back down from any challenge. He is very competitive on the field and plays physical. In the SEC, he faced the nation’s biggest and most athletic receivers on a weekly basis. There may not be a more battle tested corner in this draft class. He possesses the strength and hand quickness to redirect receivers at the line. Projecting to the NFL, he definitely will appeal to press-man and press-zone teams.
Size, Speed, Strength & Agility
It may sound dramatic, but Patrick Peterson is one of the best “size & speed” cornerback prospects of all-time. He is an unbelievable natural athlete who plays with a great amount of power. Despite tipping the scales at almost 220 pounds, he possesses elite burst and speed. That speed and agility allowed him to become one of the nation’s most dangerous return specialists this past season. Simply put, he is a rare physical specimen in the defensive backfield and a once in a decade athletic talent.
The potential is there for Patrick Peterson to enter the upper echelon of NFL defensive backs early on in his career. It is tough to imagine a position he could not play in the secondary at a very high level. He has a bit more to work on than his supporters will let on and there is a chance teams will attack him over the top in his first few seasons. However, his confidence and willingness to improve should allow him to learn from mistakes. He could be an absolute game-breaker if a team chooses to use him in the return game. He has the upside to be a true #1, shutdown corner in the league of a Charles Woodson or Darrelle Revis. Those expecting a lockdown player instantly ought to cool their jets, because he is going to need to improve his technique quite a bit to prevent him from being a liability in his early years.
By all accounts, Patrick Peterson is seen as a player with high football character. NFL defensive backs must be confident and competitive, which he certainly is. He is a student of the game with an obvious passion for the sport. That said, he did record the lowest Wonderlic score (9) of any player at the Combine in Indianapolis. If he struggles with intelligence, it is possible he could have a steeper learning curve than many expect. Luckily, he has been extremely durable during his college career. After stepping on to the LSU campus, he was a part of all 39 games in his three years. Peterson was a decorated running back and defensive back in high school. He is related to Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden, New York Giants wide receiver Sinorice Moss, and Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss.
Majored in Sports Administration.
Production & Production
2010: 13 games, 13 starts – 42 Tackles (29 Solo) 1.5 TFL 4 Int-134 yds 10 PD
2009: 13 games, 13 starts – 52 Tackles (43 Solo) 2 Int-37 yds 15 PD
2008: 13 games, 4 starts – 41 Tackles (32 Solo) 1.5 TFL 1 Int-0 yds 4 PD
Awards & Honors
2010:Bednarik Award Winner (Nation’s Top Defender). Thorpe Award Winner (Nation’s Top Defensive Back). 1st Team All-American (AP, AFCA Coaches, Walter Camp, Football Writers Association of America, CBSsports.com, Rivals.com, CollegeFootballNews.com). SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches). SEC Special Teams Player of the Year (Coaches). 1st Team All-SEC Defense (AP, Coaches). 1st Team All-SEC Special Teams (Coaches). 2nd Team All-SEC All-Purpose (AP).
2009: 2nd Team All-American (Sporting News). 1st Team All-SEC (ESPN)?. 2nd Team All-SEC (AP, Coaches).
Prospect Video Clips
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