Rookies are often drafted to help a team in the future, however Cardinals first round draft pick Patrick Peterson is expected to make an impact now.
Not only is Peterson expected to start, but he will also have a significant role in a Cardinals’ secondary that is trying to improve upon the 228 yards per game they allowed through the air last season.
It may seem like the Cardinals have a long way to go before they can consider their secondary among the league’s best, yet ESPN’s KC Joyner thinks Peterson can help this secondary become elite almost immediately.
Last season, Arizona had three cornerbacks who each finished with at least 29 pass attempts thrown his way (29 attempts being the bar for qualifying in the season-ending metrics). They were:
Rodgers-Cromartie: 85 pass attempts, 686 yards allowed, 8.1 YPA.
Greg Toler: 87 pass attempts, 792 yards allowed, 9.1 YPA.
Michael Adams: 47 pass attempts, 345 yards allowed, 7.3 YPA
All totaled, this trio saw 219 pass attempts and allowed 1,823 yards, or 8.3 YPA.
These totals were the eighth worst in the league and can be drastically improved if Peterson plays at about the same level he did in college.
“Peterson was targeted 32 times and allowed 173 yards, or 5.4 YPA,” Joyner writes.
It may only look like a few yards here and there, but if the Cardinals’ cornerback totals listed above were recalculated with Peterson’s YPA taking the place of Toler’s, it would equal the following: 219 pass attempts, 1,377 yards allowed, 6.3 YPA. To put that total into perspective, consider that a 6.3 YPA composite mark for cornerbacks would have placed second in the league in 2010.
Peterson may or may not play in the NFL at the same elite level in which he did at LSU, however an improvement to the Cardinals secondary is not as farfetched as people may think.