Why Patrick Peterson Is More Hype Than Substance

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIOctober 30, 2012

Oct 29, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) runs up field as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) pursues during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Patrick Peterson was drafted with the fifth overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, undoubtedly with visions of shutting out opponents’ No. 1 receivers with his immense physical skills and coverage ability.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Peterson has been involved in all three phases of the game for the Cardinals, from catching passes and running the Wildcat formation on offense to returning punts, kicks and of course, starting at cornerback.

Maybe his status as a multi-purpose threat has put a target on his back defensively: Quarterbacks targeted Peterson the fifth-most times of any cornerback last season, according to ProFootballFocus.

Generally, you don’t want to go after a shutdown cornerback if you don’t have to. Ever heard of Revis Island?

Peterson allowed 869 receiving last season, third most in the league. Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears was fifth on that list, giving up 850 yards in 2011.

We all know Tillman is balling along with the rest of the Bears defense this season, so improving that sort of reputation can definitely happen in short order. Yet, opposing QBs have gone back to targeting Peterson on a regular basis.

And they’ve done so on a national stage.

The St. Louis Rams went after him from the start of the game on Thursday Night Football in Week 5. Sam Bradford connected with Danny Amendola for a 44-yard gain with Peterson in coverage on the second play from scrimmage.

Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers scored both of his touchdowns on Monday Night Football with Peterson’s name as a footnote.

Can Peterson become a shutdown corner? Absolutely.

But he might have to be dedicated more to playing on the defensive side of the ball rather than splitting his attention and physical energy across so many other dimensions of the game.

His current collection of roles for the Cardinals is a spectacular one, but his primary job should be holding down the No. 1 cornerback position.