Why Patrick Peterson isn’t one of our top-ranked CBs

Jim Seki explains why Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson's performance hasn't matched his reputation in recent years.

| 2 years ago
Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Why Patrick Peterson isn’t one of our top-ranked CBs

Arizona Cardinals’ cornerback Patrick Peterson has the reputation of being one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but as you may have noticed, he does not appear in our list of the top 10 cornerbacks by PFF rating that frequently rotates on the front page of our website.

In fact, in our system, he ranks outside the top 50 entering the 2015 season, with a PFF rating of just 74.6.

How is it that he ranks so low, and why does it contradict so significantly the reputation he has for being one of the NFL’s best corners?

He certainly has a flair for the dramatic, amassing 15 INTs since entering the league in 2011. That’s an impressive number. And after an understandably slow start in his rookie season in 2011, grading at -9.5, he made a huge leap up to +10.5 in 2012, good for 16th in the league among CBs.

However, since then it’s been a steady drop down to +9.6 in 2013 and then -3.6 last season, which placed him 69th of 108 CBs. Quarterbacks have consistently looked his way as well — his 393 targets over his four-year career ranks fourth-most during that stretch, and he has allowed 219 receptions on those targets. His 55.7 percent catch rate against is respectable, but it’s nowhere near the elite level of Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis, both of whom are sub-50 percent.

Of CBs who have played at least 1,000 snaps in last four seasons, his 1.21 yards per coverage snap allowed ranks 40th of 84. His 6.21 coverage snaps per target isn’t terrible, but is again in the middle of the pack. And aside from his rookie year when he only gave up three TDs, Peterson has allowed more than six every subsequent year.

Peterson is certainly a physically gifted player capable of making game-changing plays for his team with a timely interception — the issue is that he’s too often on the wrong end of big plays produced by the Cardinals’ opponents. We know he is capable of being one of the better corners in the league, because he showed us that with his 2012 performance — but for now, to call him one of the top CBs in the NFL isn’t accurate.

  • MosesZD

    One of the biggest issues I’ve had with popular perception of CBs and their actual performance is ‘the big INT.’

    Champ Bailey was famous because of his penchant for gambling. So he’d pull in 6 INTs in a year and everyone would praise him. Meanwhile he was usually ranked, by completion percentage given up, as one of the worst CBs in the NFL. Couple that with his gambling ways, he would get burned multiple times, to the point that he routinely gave up about 8 TDs a year.

    Yet because he made a few highlight reel plays, he was given tons of respect he didn’t deserve. As if he was a modern Deion Sanders.

    Anyway, Peterson has become the same guy as Champ Bailey. A little better, perhaps, than Bailey giving up 60+% completion percentage every year. But he’s a guy whose reputation far exceeds his on field performance.

    And I appreciate your pointing it out. Though you will get flack for it. People have a hard time getting past highlight plays.

    • AC

      I don’t know how, but somehow you’re not just wrong about Bailey, but your opinion is somehow the complete opposite of how Bailey actually played?

      Bailey was never a gambler. He was never a guy to wrack INTs yet get burnt at times. He shut down his guy and played tight all game, and QBs rarely threw his way because of it. He was Revis before Revis was even in the league.

      Even a quick look at his stats would show you he had over 6 INTs in a season just twice in his career. One of which, his 2006 season, is arguably the best season for a corner in the modern era, not because of his INTs, but because he completely shut everyone down.

      I really don’t understand why people so obviously ignorant of a subject insist on commenting on it. You couldn’t even be bothered to check his stats, how am I suppose to believe you’ve even watched him play?

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      • anon76returns

        He’s right in that Champ was no modern Deion Sanders.
        Champ would actually tackle a RB!

    • Taylor Christian Vance

      AC is completely right. haha, I don’t think you watched Champ at all. His 10 INT season in 2006 was the best season a CB has ever played that i’ve seen. He was tested just 35 times all season, and allowed 4 receptions. Had 10 INT’s and 11 passes defended.

      Teams didn’t try him much before that season, and seemingly didn’t try him at all after that season.

      • Anonymous

        Revis 2009. Followed the team’s best receiver 90% of the time. Amassed over 100 targets against him. And not because he was getting burned. He gave up 34 catches, batted down 32 passes and picked off 8 passes including playoffs.

        Champ rarely got tested that season because he wasn’t shadowing the team’s best receiver. He was just smothering and erasing the other guy.

    • Fintastic

      I believe the person you’re talking about is Asante Samuel.

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  • steve smith

    THANK YOU! It annoys me that everyone thinks he is great and that he gets to the pro bowl every year. Go Hawks

    • Jeffrey Vietri

      Sherman was burned by Stedman-freaking-Bailey, after holding him, with help from the best safety in the game yesterday. Calm down.

      • steve smith

        That’s just one play. I never said Sherman is perfect. Peterson gives up big plays every game.

        • Jeffrey Vietri

          You simply did not watch either game then. Sherman also roasted by Tavon Austin but ball was way under thrown. That defense doesn’t exist without Earl Thomas & Kam. Peterson is off to a great start, we’ll see by season end with his diabetes under control. I guess you didn’t watch him last year shadowing Calvin & Dez either.

          Most fans don’t understand that having one DB shadow the teams top receiver EVERY game doesn’t mean they’ll never allow a catch. Guys like Calvin, Dez, Julio, AJ Green, Demaryius, etc get paid for a reason. Don’t understand it because there are only three DB’s who do this (Revis, PP, Haden…and Vontae Davis beginning to). Life’s a lot easier playing one side of the field cherry picking.

          • steve smith

            You are stupid. I’m not just saying that either. You are very, very stupid. Austin didn’t do any thing to Sherman except catch a ball out of bounds. The Seahawks did not play the Lions last year and Dez had a good game not a great game. Staying on one side means playing zone and man against a variety of players. Shadowing means only man against one guy. Turn your brain on.

        • krebs

          Please, Sherman has already been torched this year. Peterson was sick with diabetes most of last season. He’s doing great this year now that he has his health under control.

  • Taylor Christian Vance

    Patrick Peterson is one of the most over rated CB’s in the NFL. People who say he’s one of the best probably only remember his combine.

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      • Taylor Christian Vance

        Be quiet you.

    • Perhizzle

      So did you watch football after making this comment? If you did, you probably saw that Peterson was the best cornerback in the league by pretty much every advanced metric in 2015.

  • Angus Edwards

    Is the rating for Cornerbacks truly objective? I’m certainly not saying PP is the best in the league, he is a bit overrated. But he’s probably got the toughest assignment of any corner in the league, truly shadowing and following the top receiver with limited safety help is vastly different to what other Corners are asked to do.

    • Anonymous

      Well, to be fair Revis and Joe Haden have similar roles and they have more success than PP (Revis WAY more).

      If Peterson has over the course of his career proven that he isn’t successful performing the “Revis Role” (for lack of a better term) then why do teams continue to have him do it?

      I think you’re overstating his role. He does not follow the best of the other team as much as you say. Check this article out:


      • Angus Edwards

        I agree Revis, Haden and a few others have similar roles and do it better, I’d probably put PP between the 5-10 mark in terms of ranking, but my point was comparing PP to a Richard Sherman or one of the easier zone corners is comparing two different positions effectively.

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    • Vitor

      They explained it in the podcast, some weeks ago. You grade the player by the playing, not by the scheme. It’s not Sherman’s fault if his coaches put him to play only LCB, for example.

      Btw, I’m not saying that’s a perfect method of evaluation, just telling what they discussed in the podcast. I suggest you to listen that, you’ll understand it better

  • sportsorbust

    Where can we find a list of the PFF rating of these CB’s?

  • Bj

    Forget about shadowing number 1 wrs every week. How about he doesn’t play with the benefit of the triple team that cover 3 affords (lb in flat, another lb covering the dig or bang 8 and a safety playing a SCF zone.

  • LightsOut85

    I read recently that he got his diabetes in check – any cardinal fans out there think that played a part in his negative mark last year? I wonder what his “PFF rating” would be if his 2014 grade was in the ball-park of his 2013 grade.

    • Eric Lam

      Definitely played a huge factor, though I’m not really sure it shows in PFF ratings. He gained a lot of weight and was extremely sick early in the season last year.

  • Eric Lam

    I don’t think Peterson is as good as Revis or Sherman, but he’s way better than the 69th CB in the league.
    1. There was clearly something wrong with him early in the year in 2014, and that turned out to be diabetes.
    2. PFF takes into account players’ performance if they’re beat on a play even if it doesn’t go their way. Peterson relies on his elite athleticism to recover because he plays with bad technique, but PFF has no way of knowing if he would recover on plays where he’s “beat” but the ball doesn’t go his way. At this point, Peterson has better athletic ability than he has football technique, which is what I believe PFF is a true indication of.
    3. The numbers he gives up are also pretty bad because Bowles had him line up against the #1 receiver a lot in man coverage. He’s streaky in this role. He shut down Dez Bryant two years in a row (with a garbage time TD in there) but got absolutely torched by Julio Jones. Someone’s going to post an article about how he doesn’t consistently follow the #1, but that’s because he doesn’t follow the #1 when the opposing team doesn’t have a clear #1 like in the case of all the other NFC West teams.
    4. Though he may fail at times while shadowing the #1 receiver, having Peterson in man coverage allowed Bowles to send a multitude of blitzes. His value to the team is higher than the PFF grade shows because of this.

    • Perhizzle

      It would appear that his recovery via changing his diet proved that the diabetes was the problem. Just about every advanced metric showed Peterson was the best in 2015 and PFF was silly by saying he wasn’t elite before they knew the facts.

  • Jeffrey Vietri

    Hope they naysayer’s watched yesterday. :) One decent catch for a WR like Cooks that was tracked all game make him not elite though, I am sure.

  • krebs

    Patrick Peterson was sick most of last season with diabetes. Analytics doesn’t take the human element into account. Let’s see how you rate him this year. I would take him over any cornerback in the NFL.

  • Shaun Benbow

    He was battling diabetes last year, but now he has it under control and is much healthier. He did have a horrible season last year, because of his health. His season thus far has proven he’s back to form.

  • Perhizzle

    Going back and reading these comments is quite amusing, seeing how Peterson was hands down, statistically and by the eye test, the best cornerback in the league last year. LOL at the haters. He unknowingly had diabetes in 2014. He changed his diet and returned to form.