With the Cowboys headed for the top of the draft board come April, we thought we'd get a jump start on introducing you to the players who could wind up being a big part of the next Cowboys team. Next up is Patrick Peterson.
Name: Patrick Peterson
Why He Should Be the Pick: Have you watched Mike Jenkins at all this season? He's been so awful that is almost impressive. Seriously. Jenkins was a Pro Bowler last year and commonly thought of as a player with a higher ceiling than a cathedral and now he can neither cover receivers nor tackle ball carriers. His "attempt" to stop James Jones on Sunday night was shameful, if not new, and fit right in on a night when he regularly got beat for completions down the field. The only shocking part of the night is that he didn't get a pass interference penalty. All in all, though, it was the usual from a guy who wouldn't surprise anyone if he revealed that he's been betting against the Cowboys every week and throwing games.
It's very hard to win in the NFL with a cornerback who can't play the run or the pass, which is why Peterson would make a lot of sense for the Cowboys. He has proven to be a stud in man coverage against the best receivers in the SEC every week this season and, at 6'1" and 211 pounds, he's got the size to come up and make plays on opposing running backs. If all that isn't enough, he's also returned two punts for touchdowns and is working out at wide receiver in an attempt to make a Charles Woodson-like assault on the Heisman Trophy. That will likely fall short, but Peterson's the total package and will be a boon to whoever runs the defense next season.
On that front, another plus is that Peterson plays for Les Miles, perhaps the most overmatched sideline tactician in the history of organized football. That means the Cowboys could rehire Wade Phillips or even promote Dave Campo again and Peterson would still be playing for the best coach in his career.
Why He Won't Be the Pick: There's no glaring reason why he wouldn't be the pick. The hardest part with projecting the draft -- well, second-hardest after the fact that it is six months away -- is that we have no idea what the coaching staff of the Cowboys will look like next year. Any coach needs big time corners so Peterson is going to be in the mix, but the need to overhaul the offensive line might take precedence over a corner when Jenkins still has enough talent to make you think he can bounce back.
The only red flag with his game might be that his speed, while great for his size, makes him a less than ideal fit for a NFL corner. Peterson would probably be a terrific safety, but drafting a safety at the top of the first round is very different than drafting a cornerback at that spot. That's a real pessimistic view of Peterson's ability, though, because his athleticism is off the charts.
Likelihood: We'll put it at about 50 percent, which is about as high as any potential pick is going to get at this point in time. In addition to filling an acutal need for the Cowboys, Peterson could well finish the season as the consensus best player in college football, if not the Heisman winner. Jerry Jones loves star power above all else and Peterson has star written all over him.
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