LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson has gotten tons of ink since the college football season kicked off in the fall of 2010. Hell, the guy even got Heisman hype for a while. But in the lead up to the 2011 NFL Draft most experts have assumed Peterson would go in the top 10, but haven’t gone crazy over him. That’s changing.
After the 2011 NFL Combine, Peterson has elevated himself into the discussion as the top player in this year’s draft. Peterson measured in at 6’0 and 219 pounds. Then he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, a 6.58 three-cone drill, a 4.07 20-yard shuttle, 11.01 in the 60-yard shuttle, had a 10’6 broad jump and a 38-inch vertical. For those who don’t know, those numbers mean he’s insanely athletic. Throw that workout on top of stacks of phenomenal game tape and Peterson has likely separated himself as the top player in this year’s draft.
His size means that he could be moved to safety later in his career if needed, or even early as the result of an injury or roster moves. He’s got great ball skills and can also help in the return game. Basically he’s big, fast, athletic, has great instincts and could play at any spot in the secondary.
That said, because a player is the best in the draft doesn’t mean he’ll be taken with the top pick. In fact, a defensive back has only been selected with the top pick once in NFL history. That happened in 1956 when Gary Glick was taken with the top pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The last time a cornerback was taken in the top three was in 1997 when Shawn Springs was taken with the No. 3 pick by the Seattle Seahawks.
Still, Peterson could be worth that selection. Mel Kiper elevated the LSU corner to the top spot on his Big Board following the Combine and Scouts Inc. has Peterson as the No. 3 player in the draft, though he is in a five-way tie for their top rating. Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, Auburn’s Nick Fairley, Peterson, Georgia’s A.J. Green and Texas A&M’s Von Miller all check in with grades of 97 on Scouts Inc.’s board.
Currently Kiper and Todd McShay have Peterson going No. 7 to the San Francisco 49ers, but their Mock Drafts haven’t been updated since the Combine.
Right now I have no idea where Peterson will land, but I can assure you that most teams at the top of the draft have to be falling in love with his ability. I’d really be shocked if he lasted past the top five.