PFF: Cardinals’ Johnson and Peterson among top 50 players for 2017
The Cardinals didn’t have the season they had hoped for in 2016.
While the team failed to make the playoffs, two players stood out.
Both David Johnson and Patrick Peterson made the Pro Bowl last season and graced Pro Football Focus’ list of the top players for 2017.
Last season, teams avoided throwing Peterson’s way. The corner only defended six passes, the lowest single-season total of his career.
He also snatched three interceptions and made 44 tackles while routinely covering the opposing teams best receiver.
The six-time Pro Bowler came in at No. 35 on Pro Football Focus’ list.
Peterson routinely has the hardest job of any cornerback in the NFL given what the Cardinals ask him to do. Peterson tracks No. 1 receivers, and will follow them inside to the slot the way Darrelle Revis used to, and the way very few corners in the league do anymore. Peterson was the league’s least-targeted cornerback in 2016, seeing a pass come his way once every 8.5 snaps in coverage, but he was beaten for three touchdowns and a passer rating as high as 80.7 when targeted, 30 points higher than the best marks in the league.
In his sophomore season, Johnson was a First Team All -Pro selection while leading the NFL in rushing and receiving touchdowns (20), and yards from scrimmage (2,118).
Johnson set an NFL record starting the season with 15 straight games of gaining 100 or more yards from scrimmage. He may have reached the century mark in all 16 games had he not suffered a knee injury in a week 17 win over the Rams.
His excellence in the receiving game was a main reason that he came in at No. 15 on Pro Football Focus’ list.
Johnson was unleashed fully upon the league in 2016, and we got to see a player who is not only an excellent ball carrier, but one who has rare versatility, which makes him a major matchup problem for defenses. Johnson earned a PFF receiving grade of 92.6, and was running routes and receiving passes that most running backs typically weren’t asked to. He broke 27 tackles as a receiver, six more than any other back, and was the only runner to be targeted more than 100 times over the season, catching 80 of them (74.8 percent) and averaging eight yards per reception after the catch.