Position Ranking: #1
Strengths: The new prototype for the position; outstanding combination of size, speed, and strength. Physical stature and strength is that of the ideal NFL strong safety, but skill set and abilities are that of the ideal NFL cornerback. Extremely physical and excels in press coverage. Very good foot quickness in transition and shows an even and quick crossover step. Can turn and shade any wide receiver up to 30 yards downfield; stays on the hip with eyes locked on target. Shows good instincts and awareness when playing off coverage, follows the eyes of the quarterback and quickly plants and drives to the spot of the throw with good anticipation. Consistently breaks up passes or dislodges the ball from the receiver. Thoroughly dominated less talented wide receivers.
A heavy hitter and can handle big skill players on an island when he wraps at the point of attack. Consistently physical in run support and has the strength to contain the edge and force runs inside. An aggressive blitzer who releases off the corner quickly to get in the backfield. Not hesitant to stick his head in a pile or collide with physical runners. A playmaker on punt returns, has the straight line speed and agility in space to go the distance. Mentally strong and plays aggressive through four quarters.
Needs Improvement: Doesn’t show great recovery speed deep downfield to regroup and get back on top of speedy receivers. Lacks suddenness when breaking on the short in and out routes. Shows some tightness in hips. Can be overzealous and play himself out of position or get too physical downfield, incurring penalties. Technique is still a work in progress; knows how talented he is and won’t always work to win leverage. Didn’t play a lot of zone coverage in college, roughly 70/30 at best (man/zone coverage).
Bottom Line: Nine times out of ten, Patrick Peterson is the best athlete on the football field. His immense athletic talent coupled with his physical style of play make him one of the most coveted players available in this draft class. His skill set will translate perfectly to either safety or cornerback and he gives the team that drafts him plenty of versatility in the secondary. Peterson also adds the option of being used on punt returns, he scored two touchdowns this season while consistently putting the LSU offense in favorable field position. He isn’t a finished product from a technique standpoint and will benefit from NFL coaching. If I had to pick one player as a ‘sure thing’ in this draft class it would be Patrick Peterson.
Draft Projection: Top ten pick.