Patrick Peterson and the Denver Broncos: A Match Made in Heaven?
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With the 2011 NFL combine wrapped up just in time for the potential NFL lockout, it might be interesting to look at how almost everyone's top-rated CB and top-four mock draft pick should or would work out if taken by the Broncos with the second overall pick.
Peterson was the top-rated CB going into the combine and certainly didn't hurt himself coming out.
40 yard dash: 4.34 seconds
Vertical Jump: 37 inches
Broad Jump: 10'6"
Three-cone drill: 6.58 seconds
And he did this carrying about 10 pounds heavier than his college playing weight, going at 219 pounds.
He and Prince Amukamara of Nebraska have blown the rest away, at least so far.
But this article will focus not only on Peterson the athlete, but also the position of CB and how taking Peterson with the second overall pick would or wouldn't impact the Broncos.
Peterson Was an LSU Defenive Tiger
Peterson destroying Alabama star WR Julio Jones
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Peterson went to high school in Pompano Beach, Florida and was a RB and DB. He showed his additional versatility by also returning kicks and was a 5-star recruit. Peterson was named by USA Today as the High School Defensive Player of the Year.
With all that hype, it was assumed Peterson would attend a school in-state, U of Miami, Florida State and Florida all were drooling and wanted him but he went to LSU and played some pretty decent football for the Tigers in Baton Rouge.
Anyone that followed LSU football these past three years can recite all the defensive stats from memory:
Freshman: 13 Games Started, 30 Unassisted Tackles, 1 INT
Sophomore: 13 Games Started, 43 Unassisted Tackles, 2 INT
Junior: 13 Games Started, 29 Unassisted Tackles, 4 INT
Those are pretty decent numbers for a CB, but what I liked most out of that was seeing how the numbers, especially the INT, went up year by year. That shows that as good as he was in his three-year college career, and he has an even greater potential upside as a professional.
College stats don't always point to NFL greatness, but since Peterson was a former SEC cornerback and has excellent athleticism, toughness and work ethic, he can have a better-than-average chance to shine at the next level.
Kick Returner: An Added Bonus?
Peterson on the run with a return.
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With Peterson's great speed and athletic moves, he adds a punt-return dimension to his value.
In his junior year, he had 26 returns for 418 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 32 kickoff returns for 932 yards for a 29.1-yard average.
There is much value in his return skills, but there is also an increased opportunity for injuries there.
I would also question whether doing double duty with any return would have a negative impact on playing defense.
Who Wouldn't Want This Smile on Their Team?
Mr. Peterson looks happy with his Combine results.
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From what I can tell, Peterson is a great person, on and off the field. He had no real issues while at LSU and seems to be a good leader while in college. That would most likely continue in the NFL.
I see him bringing not only character but a swagger to the cornerback position, even as a rookie.
And considering the character issues the Broncos have with a few of their players, I see this as a big plus. And character is something both Fox and Elway will be taking a real hard look at in all their players, currently on the roster, those drafted, those signed as FAs or acquired in trades.
Late Moves by Broncos May Muddy the Waters
Bannan and Williams not part of the future Bronco plans.
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Considering the fact that the Broncos cut both Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams, it would point to the likelihood that the first order of business would be to secure a DT or possibly a strong DE.
Now, there is always the potential to re-sign one or both of these guys to a smaller contract, but if that happens, I would think it would only be Bannan, as Williams looks to be past his expiration date.
Would this totally preclude drafting Peterson with the number two pick? No, but it may be a telling sign that the Broncos aren't leaning that way at the moment.
I would see the potential for going after Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, Alabama DE Marcel Dareus or even Texas A&M LB Von Miller if they choose to keep that pick.
Add This All Up and We Get...
Peterson holding Mark Ingram out of the Endzone.
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As much as I would love to see Mr. Peterson lined up opposite Champ Bailey next season, I don't see it happening. And here are my reasons:
It is very rare for any CB to go with the second overall pick. That is a huge salary package—at least under current rookie structure—and would place a large investment of money and a high pick on a player that may only be involved in 20 percent to 25 percent of the plays on defense. A defensive lineman is involved in virtually all the plays, whether rushing the passer or making plays in the running game.
Denver's biggest need right now is in the front seven, particularly on the D line. This is a focus that the Broncos haven't addressed in the draft since Trevor Pryce back in 1997 with the 28th overall pick. The quality of play on the defensive side of the ball has shown this lack of focus for several years now.
Then there is the potential that the Broncos trade down a few slots, get more picks and still receive quality players in the first two rounds. Will they do that? I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise or disappoint me if they did.
So to conclude, I don't see Peterson going to Denver with the second pick, either because the Broncos will take a defensive lineman there or trade down.
Do I think Peterson will end up being a great player wherever he goes? Absolutely.
And I wish him well and hope he doesn't end up on another AFC West team.
Just one Bronco Fan(atic)'s opinion.