COMMENTARY | NFL Network recently ran its third annual Top 100 Players series, and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was voted as the 33rd-best overall player -- he was the top-ranked corner.
Peterson is undeniably one of the NFL's best defensive backs. His coverage skills, athleticism and confidence carry him to great things on the field every Sunday, and they were a major reason for his high ranking.
While No. 33 is probably about where he belongs overall, rating him as the top corner in football is off base.
Then, there was Deion Sanders, the Hall of Fame cornerback and the original shutdown corner, stating he would like to see a defensive back crack the top 5 in 2014's Top 100 show. He named Peterson as his choice.
That may come to fruition, but it might not be because the third-year corner truly earned it.
Here are three reasons why Peterson is overrated.
Michael Crabtree, Peterson's Achilles Heel
Peterson works as hard at his craft as any NFL player, but until he shows he can shut down every receiver he faces there is no reason to put him in such high esteem.
One wide receiver he may not face in 2013 is the San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree. Now recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in May, he could miss the entire season -- though, Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh said he is not expected to miss all of 2013 (via Mike Garafolo, USA Today).
His recovery should be considered a fluid situation for now, as it is still too early to say with any degree of certainty whether he will play or not. The Cardinals end the 2013 regular-season schedule at home against the 49ers, so the two still could hypothetically face each other once this season if Crabtree returns in time.
Peterson was brilliant for most of last season. He intercepted seven passes and deflected 17 more. His opposing passer rating ranked No. 9 in the league, at 64.8 -- he allowed six touchdown passes.
But if you were to take out both performances against Crabtree last year, Peterson's opposing passer rating would have been just 42.0. That is because Crabtree caught 7-of-8 targets versus Peterson for 138 yards and four touchdowns.
In fact, in four career games, Peterson has allowed Crabtree 17 receptions on 24 targets (70.8%) for 280 yards and four touchdowns for a 149.3 passer rating. Everyone else he has faced so far amounted to 99-of-184 (53.8%) for 1,460 yards, five touchdowns and nine interceptions for a 68.7 passer rating (via ProFootballFocus).
He is going to have to shut down Crabtree in order to be in the discussion for top overall corner.
Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
"He's got a big mouth. But he can back it up, so let him talk."
49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith said that of Richard Sherman in NFL Network's presentation of his No. 50 ranking.
Say what you want about how he got there (Adderall-enhanced), but Richard Sherman has been a better cornerback through two NFL seasons than Peterson has been, and he was a fifth-round pick. How he is ranked 17 spots behind Peterson is questionable -- though, it may have something to do with his dirty urine sample.
This is not based solely on NFL Network's Top 100 list, but it can't be overlooked, either.
Sherman has allowed six touchdowns in two NFL seasons -- the same amount Peterson allowed last year. He also picked off eight passes in 2012 (one more than Peterson) and was third with a 41.1 opposing passer rating.
He has confidence for days and, as Smith noted above, he can back up his talk. He backs down from no one, and if you challenge him on the field, he will win more often than not.
This next statistic should disgust every Cardinals fan.
In three career games versus Larry Fitzgerald, Sherman has allowed Fitz five receptions on 14 targets (35.7%) for 87 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions for an 18.2 opposing passer rating (via PFF).
How much of that was Sherman and how much was the less-than-ideal quarterback situation facing the Cardinals the last two years? Both factors likely contributed to it. That is still sickening.
Punt Return Overachiever
As a rookie, no returner was as good as Peterson was. He tied an NFL record with his four punt returns for touchdown and was a hand away from taking a fifth all the way.
His sophomore season was not as pleasant. He did not take a single punt the distance, and his yards-per-return average dropped from 15.9 to just 8.4 -- he also fumbled seven times on returns.
It is almost as though Peterson's return ability has been lumped in with his defensive playmaking. Yes, he has superior athleticism and should be considered one of the most athletic players in the league. But one great season returning punts and one very bad season averages out to being very average in two years.Everyone still points to his rookie season, but he must perform better in 2013 for the hype to be justified.
Shaun Church has covered the Arizona Cardinals for more than three years on various online publications and considers himself a life-long fan. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, Football Nation, The Boston Metro, ESPN.com and more.
Questions or comments? E-mail Shaun at email@example.com
You can also follow and mention Shaun on Twitter @Church_NFL
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Patrick Peterson
- Michael Crabtree
- Arizona Cardinals
- NFL Network
- passer rating