The LSU Tigers have a knack for producing NFL talent, and lately, they've been farming great defensive backs.
The Tigers have 43 players at the NFL level right now. Of those 43, nine of them came from the Tigers secondary. With Mo Claiborne projected to be a top pick in the draft, it's only fitting to compare him to LSU's most recent star in the NFL, Patrick Peterson.
The similarities between these two are rather scary. Both players were shutdown corners at LSU, both showed skill in returning kicks and both strangely scored low on the Wonderlic test.
For those NFL teams that are worried about Claiborne scoring a four on his Wonderlic, just look at Peterson's score of nine and compare it to the way he played last year. Peterson made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season after tying the NFL record for punt return touchdowns with four and making two interceptions on defense.
His performance in the NFL came as no surprise to LSU fans, because we all knew what he was capable of, as he showed it week in and week out. The same can be said about Claiborne.
Much like Peterson, Claiborne shut down every receiver he matched up against, and I would be willing to give the nod to Claiborne over Peterson in raw coverage ability.
Last season, he had six pass breakups and six interceptions. His stats would have been higher had more opponents thrown his way more often, but they knew better.
Claiborne finished his career at LSU tied for sixth in school history in career interceptions with 11, while Peterson finished with 22 pass breakups and seven interceptions.
As an overall playmaker, Claiborne isn't quite on Peterson's level. Claiborne showed glimpses of greatness, leading the nation in return yards in 2011 with 173, and he returned a 99-yard kickoff to the house against West Virginia.
But those fail to compare with what Peterson has done in both the pros and at LSU. Before Peterson was taking punts back to the house in the NFL, he was doing much of the same in the SEC.
Peterson was ranked first in the SEC and fourth in the nation in punt returns with a 16.1 average his junior season, and he took two punts back to the house for touchdowns.
He also set the school's single-season record in kickoff return yards with 932, the fifth-highest total in SEC history.
Getting down to it, both of these players have the skill set to make scouts drool over, and they will both have very successful NFL careers.
With the league going more to a pass-first league, it's vital to have cornerbacks who can put receivers on an island on the outside. Claiborne will be able to do that just as we, if not better, than Peterson. But with that said, Peterson has the capabilities to win a game in overtime with a 99-yard punt return.
The bottom line is that you can't go wrong with either athlete. As Claiborne followed in Peterson's footsteps by claiming the Jim Thorpe Award, he'll do the same in establishing himself as one of the elite corners in the pros.
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