The Cardinals selected LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson Thursday with their first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the fifth overall selection.
Peterson had four interceptions and two kick returns for touchdowns in the 2010 season along with 42 tackles.
The cornerback had seven interceptions and 135 total tackles in his three year career at LSU and was lauded by many for his coverage skills and potential as a lock-down defensive back in the NFL.
Though not a position of need, Cardinals GM Rod Graves said it came down to taking the best player available.
“We think that we have, if not one of the best players in the draft, certainly one that will be outstanding for our football team and we’re just delighted to be able to capture a player of his talent,” he said.
Peterson, though, told the NFL Network he was surprised — and happy — to be a Cardinal.
“It’s a shock but I’m happy to be an Arizona Cardinal,” he said. “I’m going to go there and give it all I’ve got each and every day.”
Peterson wasn’t the only one surprised to be drafted by the Cardinals. Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wasn’t sure the corner would be available for them.
“We didn’t know that he would be there but he was one of the highest rated players on our board going into this draft,” he said.
It probably has something to do with his tools and physical attributes. At 6’0″ and 219 pounds, Peterson’s 4.31 40-yard dash showed he’s not lacking in really any category.
“He’s got a tremendous combination of size and speed,” Whisenhunt said. “He played in a very good program in an elite conference in the SEC, and he was one of the best players in the conference.”