Pros: Trails and catches his receiver in man coverage very well; has the discipline to shadow on quick underneath routes without giving up too much of a cushion. Jumps routes with impressive speed and will contort his body to make a play. Times his jumps very well, and has a keen sense to come down with the ball, whereas lesser pass defenders are satisfied to simply bat the ball away.
On any kind of return — punt, kick or interception — he takes smooth but very quick strides, has a great eye for gaps, kicks into second gear at the right time, and keeps going after contact. Has stunning recovery speed, but needs it less and less. Reads quarterbacks very well and doesn't generally bite on play-fakes. Always has a sense of where he is in the play, and he doesn't engage in gratuitous athleticism -- every move has a purpose. Knows how to play the ball and avoid penalties without getting lost and detached from the receiver in the process. Doesn't stick with his target if the ball's going elsewhere.
Cons: While it's difficult to find flaws in his coverage skills, Peterson has a tendency to bite on double moves, and he's more conversant in man coverage than in zone. That said, he's got overwhelming football awareness and prodigious talent.
What he brings to the team: The key to Peterson's value is his versatility and command of the game — he does so many things well because he's cognizant of what needs to be done in coverage and on special teams. With the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league, the idea of getting an immediate elite starter at the cornerback position makes Peterson a very attractive target for any team.
Is it the right pick? Yes — Peterson is the best overall player in this draft class, and that's always tough to argue with. In a larger sense, I might have liked Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert as a player who really fir Ken Whisenhunt's offensive concepts, but Peterson puts a whole new stamp on Arizona's defense, and his return ability makes the Cards more dangerous in another way. Whisenhunt must now find a veteran quarterback for the short term.
The rest of the top 10 picks
• 1. Cam Newton -- Carolina Panthers
• 2. Von Miller -- Denver Broncos
• 3. Marcell Dareus -- Buffalo Bills
• 4. A.J. Green -- Cincinnati Bengals
• 6. Julio Jones -- Atlanta Falcons
• 7. Aldon Smith -- San Francisco 49ers
• 8. Jake Locker -- Tennessee Titans
• 9. Tyron Smith -- Dallas Cowboys
• 10. Blaine Gabbert -- Jacksonville Jaguars