Peterson deserves to go No. 1

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:49 PM ET

Patrick Peterson is about as sure a bet as the NFL draft has to offer.

The Louisiana State University cornerback does things no one else in this draft at his position can do.

If there is a guy who can step right into the NFL today and not miss a beat, it's him.

Those are the kind of statements NFL people are making about Peterson. They have been making them since the LSU season ended.

And yet few teams if any have him rated the No. 1 pick in the draft.

This in a league where the remotest hint of "reaching" for a player because of need at a position is a sign of weakness.

So it was kind of nice to see Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network bring this to light recently.

For whatever reason, no matter how highly acclaimed a cornerback comes out of college, they never go No. 1.

Not Charles Woodson, not Deion Sanders, not Rod Woodson.

In fact, going all the way back to 1989 when Sanders became the first actual player listed as a cornerback to be drafted (they were all defensive backs before that), a cornerback has never been picked higher than No. 3 in the draft.

And that has only happened twice. The Atlanta Falcons used the No. 3 pick in 1991 to select Bruce Pickins out of Nebraska. Six years later Shawn Springs went third overall to Seattle out of Ohio State.

Charles Woodson went fourth overall the following year to Oakland. Champ Bailey went seventh overall in 99. Rod Woodson went fourth overall to Pittsburgh a year earlier. Mr. Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders failed to crack the top four, going fifth overall to Atlanta in 1989.

Even Darrelle Revis who is so good his opponents are said to be Revis Island and incapable of getting away from him, couldn't crack the top 10 -- dropping all the way to 14th where the Jets took him in 2007.

In the past 10 drafts, a quarterback has been taken first overall eight times.

In the other two Miami took offensive tackle Jake Long in 2008 and Houston took defensive end Mario Williams first overall in 2006.

Some have deserved to be the first overall pick. Others went first just because they play quarterback. We're looking at you guys -- JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, David Carr, and Chad Pennington.

With the NFL more pass-happy than ever, the value of a good cornerback like Peterson should be higher, not lower.

And yet Peterson, according to those in the know, will slide down as low as fifth despite having first-pick talent.

Is it any wonder Baldinger was all but shouting at his fellow panelists when he tried to explain how asinine it is for a league that proclaims the best player always goes first to have what seems like an unwritten rule that cornerbacks aren't worthy of a first overall pick.

Baldinger is on record saying the Carolina Panthers should select Peterson first overall this year.

All of which brings us back to Peterson, himself.

Asked at the NFL Combine what makes him the best corner in the draft, Peterson didn't even pretend there were others at his level.

"I'd probably say my ball skills, toughness, I can support the run," he said. "I'm an all-around cornerback and that's what I wanted to do coming out of college. I definitely want to continue that trend going into the NFL."

That kind of confidence is what it takes to play the position and his response to that question is a good indication of his readiness to do the job.

But's it's likely not enough to earn him the honour of being the first ever No. 1 pick as a cornerback.

And that's a shame.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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