NFL teams covet talent.
But even more than that, they covet young talent.
In a recent article, ESPN’s Rivers McCown ranked all 32 teams based on their 25-and-under talent, and had the Arizona Cardinals ranked a disappointing 25th.
Fellow ESPN Insider Mel Kiper Jr. then ranked his top 25 players in that age group, and Cardinals’ two-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson comes in at number 11. Kiper ranked each player on what they’ve accomplished so far and their future outlook.
Current: If you judge him purely on his cover skills, Peterson isn’t quite up to the level of a rival NFC West cornerback. But with Peterson, you have to factor in that he’s one of the NFL’s elite punt returners, which helps with field position every week. And as a cornerback who needed a lot of work coming out of the draft, Peterson is certainly on the edge of elite. His incredible physical skills can mask some technical deficiencies, but he makes plays, and his fine ball skills are also handy.
Future: Peterson will only get better in coverage, and he’ll play his third full NFL season and then not turn 24 for six months. He’s also started 32 of a possible 32 games headed into his third season, so injuries haven’t been a concern. Not yet a great player, but he’s on his way.
Peterson ranked sixth among defensive players on Kiper’s list and was the second-ranked defensive back, behind only Seattle safety Earl Thomas.
The third-year pro from LSU had 55 total tackles for the Cardinals last season and his seven interceptions ranked fourth in the league.