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Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson heads PFF’s list of 2016 Top 101 snubs

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) moves to the field before the first of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Wednesday, Pro Football Focus released its list of the top 101 players during the 2016 NFL season.

Five Arizona Cardinals made the list, but there was one notable exception. Cornerback Patrick Peterson didn’t appear, despite being the team’s lone participant in the Pro Bowl in Orlando (David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald pulled out due to injuries).

Thursday morning, PFF put out another list — this one ranking the top 10 players that didn’t make their original piece. Peterson was first.

By far the biggest reaction to any absence on the list came regarding Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson. As evidenced by his rank of No. 19 a season ago, PFF has ranked Peterson extremely highly in the past (only Josh Norman and Peterson’s Arizona teammate, Tyrann Mathieu, who is more of a slot weapon, were ranked higher a season ago among cornerbacks). In 2016, however, he didn’t live up to that level of play. Peterson has one of the toughest roles of any corner in the game year in and year out. He tracks the opposition’s top threat, and unlike many corners, will follow them to the slot, and not just left to right. That level of responsibility, however, means that if Peterson isn’t 100 percent on his game, it will show up quickly. In 2015, Peterson allowed just 50.0 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught, and quarterbacks recorded a passer rating of only 65.5 when targeting him. This season, those numbers jumped to 60.6 percent and 80.7, respectively. He gave up three touchdown catches this season (Denver’s Aqib Talib gave up none) and allowed more than 500 receiving yards.

As PFF points out, Peterson’s exclusion is more a case of drop-off from an outstanding 2015 season than it was flat-out poor play this year.

If you go to more advanced numbers, again you see a significant decline in Peterson’s performance from 2015 to 2016. A year ago, he was the toughest cornerback in the game to complete a pass on, allowing a catch once every 19.5 snaps in coverage. This season, that number is down to once every 14.0 snaps, and he was targeted more often. Peterson allowed 0.9 yards per coverage snap, which is 12th in the league, and up from the 0.58 he posted a season ago, which was the best mark in the NFL. Every statistical category you want to look at tells the same story as the tape: Peterson in 2016 slipped from being arguably the best corner in the game, and was more like a top-10 player at the position. That ranking is still certainly commendable, but wasn’t quite enough to get him on a top 101 list that focuses solely on the season that was.

Peterson registered 46 total tackles on the season and his three interceptions and eight passes defensed both tied for the second-most on the team.

NFL sack leader Vic Beasley of the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy and Seahawks safety Earl Thomas joined Peterson as notable omissions from PFF’s top 101.

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