6’1, 222 pounds | CB | LSU
Agility: Has shown that he can flip his hips with ease both ways to turn and run with wide receivers. Terrific change of direction ability. Transitions out of breaks easily. Very fluid in space, which he shows on punt returns. Reportedly has a 39-inch vertical leap.
Ball skills: As good in this area as any cornerback eligible for the draft. His numbers won’t show it because teams don’t throw at him, but Peterson has excellent hands for a cornerback. More importantly, he knows when to make a play on the ball, especially in man coverage. Locates quickly and has long arms to disrupt. Tends to play the ball more than his man.
Body control: Is a smooth, natural athlete who doesn’t get his feet mixed up. Stays balanced in his backpedal and doesn’t get high when moving backward. Peterson has a good strength base to fight with receivers in the air. Seems to be aware of the sidelines when working a wide receiver wide of the hash or making an interception.
Instincts: Shows above-average football intelligence in route running recognition. Will only get better here with experience. That may only come in the pros as college teams rarely throw in Peterson’s direction. Peterson is an aggressive cornerback who often seems to know where a play is going to develop and where the ball is going to be placed. As a return man, Peterson
Man coverage: As far as physical cornerbacks go, Peterson is one of the best in a long time. He has the size to redirect a receiver on the line and disrupt routes. One of Peterson’s best assets is his hand checking, which he uses to close the natural window on receiver’s outside shoulder. Can get beat at times against smaller, quick receivers with a good double move.
Size: Is big for a cornerback. Added 10 pounds of mass between his sophomore and junior seasons. The added size doesn’t seem to have had a negative affect on Peterson’s play. In one interview since getting bigger, Peterson said he feels quicker than ever. His frame may be maxed out, but it’s NFL ready.
Speed: In the spring of 2010, Peterson was laser-timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.37 seconds. He’s shown off that speed as a punt returner and will be able to immediately contribute in that area in the pros. Gets to speed in a hurry. Has the speed to chase down the ball carrier in the open field. Uses his speed nicely to be a comeback routes.
Tackling: Against the run, Peterson could be better. He’s strong enough to tackle, and is a sure tackler. But he doesn’t always get after it against the run. Can get lackadaisical and cut blocked. Will take solid pursuit angles to the ball. Is reliable on corner blitzes because he can beat blockers and close quickly on the quarterback with strength.
Zone coverage: Is good in zone but much better when in press coverage. Tends to break a little early on the ball to try and make an interception. This puts Peterson out of position, allowing good quarterbacks to complete passes in tight windows.
Final word: There is a lot to love about Peterson. His size and athleticism are elite and his coverage skills should only get better with more experience. He rarely gets tested at LSU. Is a premier return specialist who should contribute in that role immediately. He plays with a lot of swagger, citing Deion Sanders as his positional blue print.
Peterson is a better cornerback prospect than Joe Haden and Kyle Wilson. Shows very good high-point awareness. However, Peterson is not a perfect cornerback. He’s struggled at times against quick receivers and gets beaten on double moves. Gets unfairly criticized for a 37-yard touchdown he allowed in the 2010 Capitol One Bowl, but the field was destroyed at that point in the game. In 2009, he shut down Alabama’s Julio Jones – Jones had a 73-yard reception in that game after Peterson was out with cramps. Peterson hasn’t had injuries, but he’s had cramps on several occasions.
Added 10 pounds of bulk between his sophomore and junior seasons. According to LSU, Peterson can squat 535 pounds and bench press 335 pounds. Has register an 11-feet, 1-inch broad jump.
Peterson was named a second-team All-American in 2009 by Sporting News and first-team All-SEC by ESPN and second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press and coaches. He has started since his true freshman season. Peterson is related to NFL pros Bryant McFadden, Sinorice Moss and Santana Moss.