Pro Football Focus annually concocts a “Top 101” list of best players in the NFL based on an individual season.
The analytics site recently came out with its list for 2013, and even though Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson made the cut, an ESPN Insider article on Monday — titled “NFL’s most overrated players” — explained why the three-year pro wasn’t rated higher.
The analysts felt the need to qualify the “overrated” list with, “Here’s a look at the players many fans and media will be surprised to see at the bottom half of the PFF 101.”
Peterson came in at No. 58 on the list, which PFF acknowledges is rather low considering the three-time Pro Bowler’s high regard in the league.
Here’s the reasoning behind Peterson’s seemingly underwhelming ranking:
The hype for Peterson has been mostly of his own doing of late, as his social media “feud” with his fellow cornerbacks has made headlines.
Similar to (Cincinnati’s A.J.) Green, Peterson has all the physical talent in the world and uses it well for the most part, but he hasn’t done it on a weekly basis like some of league’s other top cornerbacks. Overall, Peterson ranked 15th among cornerbacks with a plus-5.9 coverage grade, but he did so while tracking the opposition’s top wide receiver 55 percent of the time.
His assignment may be more difficult than some of the league’s other corners, but he has yet to perform at a level that puts him into the top echelon at the position. He surrendered seven touchdowns into his coverage — tying for third most in the league — while his 1.00 yards/cover snap tied for 15th. Using interception numbers to judge a cornerback may be even worse than using tackles for a linebacker, but Peterson got his hands on only nine passes (three intercepted, six passes defensed), a number you would expect to be a little higher for a top cornerback that was targeted 90 times.
Another similarity to Green is Peterson’s week-to-week consistency issues, as he finished seven games with negative coverage grades, including a disastrous Week 15 performance that saw him surrender nine catches on 10 targets for 146 yards, most of which came at the hands of Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright. While we’re certainly not going to hold one game against a player, these are the types of performances that must be avoided if Peterson is going to take the next step to rank among the best cornerbacks in the league. Until then, he’s a very good player who takes on assignments of above-average difficulty on a weekly basis.
Peterson had 42 tackles, three interceptions and 13 passes defensed in 2013. Those numbers were down from his sophomore year, in which he compiled 55 tackles, seven picks, 16 passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
Sherman’s claim that Peterson “gives up too many touchdowns” does seem to be confirmed by PFF — at least for 2013 — which said he allowed seven TDs, tied for third-most in the league.
Former Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby came in one spot behind Peterson at No. 59, while then-rookie Tyrann Mathieu put together a campaign that was good enough for 84th on the list.
The highest-rated Cardinal was defensive end Calais Campbell, who came in 19th. No Cardinals offensive players made the cut.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt placed No. 1 on the PFF list.