LSU's Patrick Peterson, returning a punt against North Carolina
Lockouts, court proceedings, players being sued for living the life of a pro athlete before they were drafted—all storylines that have been heard over and over again during what is shaping up to be a tumultous 2011 NFL offseason. With the lack of a CBA currently prohibiting most league activities, the draft is what fans are hoping their favorite team will use to fill needs and get ever closer to the elusive Lombardi Trophy.
With the 2011 NFL Draft fast approaching, I will be taking a look at one player who is billed to possibly go in the top-five picks of the draft, Louisiana State's Patrick Peterson. Peterson has been projected to be the first defensive back taken in the first round, anywhere from the very first pick to the seventh pick. A defensive back has never been taken first overall, but this kid may very well put that fact to rest.
Peterson, in his junior year at Baton Rouge, had the following stats: four interceptions (which he returned for 134 yards), six pass breakups, a blocked kick, and 1.5 sacks. Peterson averaged 29.1 yards on 32 kick returns and averaged 16.1 yards on 26 punt returns, two of which he returned for scores. He won the Jim Thorpe Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Special Teams Player of the Year by the conference's coaches.
Here is a excerpt from his scouting combine report according to Draft Board Insider: "If there was ever a player in this draft to pass the eyeball test it's LSU's Patrick Peterson. He really is a remarkable physical specimen as a defensive back with a long lean frame and exceptional fitness. Peterson is a typical top flight DB in one sense in that he's cocky. Not confident, cocky. Not that cockiness a bad thing, because it's not. In fact his ability to forget a bad play and come back is a big bonus."
He is not alone in being the only solid cornerback in this draft; he is often compared to Nebraska's Prince Amukamara who is widely considered to be the second-best defensive back and also is no stranger to elite competition in the Big 12. But I give the edge to Peterson, because as a cornerback, you have to be able to securely tackle the ball carrier and take correct angles in pursuit of a play, and Peterson has shown that he can be aggressive off the edge and has shown a superb ability in pursuing and ending the play, sometimes in the open field.
The team that drafts Peterson will get the complete package: an athlete who has very high football IQ, someone who will be an immediate playmaker, as the things that he does well, he does at a high level. Peterson will be mentioned with the likes of previous shutdown corners Deion Sanders, Champ Bailey and Darrell Green sooner than most people think.
Thanks to Draft Board Insider for contributing to this article!