Patrick Peterson was the biggest recruiting "get" for LSU for the 2008 football signing class. He's probably the best cornerback LSU has ever signed. He has come to Baton Rouge and has done absolutely nothing to make people question his credentials. He is by all accounts the most ready-to-play of the young Tigers. He has already worked his way up to the 2nd string, and did so in his first day practicing with the vets.
His position coach and co-coordinator Doug Mallory said of him, "He may be as talented a cornerback as I have ever coached as a true freshman." Says cgisclair, who watches the practices with the media, "Patrick Peterson may well be the best DB LSU has on its roster." Not the best corner. Not the best freshman. The best defensive back.
As in, better than 5th year senior and experienced starter Curtis Taylor. Better than last year's #1 recruit Chad Jones. Better than possible starting safety Harry Coleman. Better than experienced nickel back Danny McCray. Better than the two starting cornerbacks ahead of him.
But I can't help going back to something Chad Jones recently said to Tiger Bait's Bryan Lazare. "I was real fortunate to play as much as I did," Jones said. "It's real hard to play defense here. There are so many different types of defenses and checks. I was coming from high school where we had about five plays."
Jones was a tremendous recruit and a great athlete, possibly the best athlete on the team, but he admits that he was not ready to contribute at a high level early in his career, because the adjustment from high school was too great. Patrick Peterson is going through that adjustment right now.
It may be different for Peterson. For one, he was at a different school, one that may expect more schematically from its players. Second, Jones was concentrating on baseball for most of the summer, as he had been drafted by the Houston Astros and was negotiating a possible contract with them, while Patrick Peterson has been all-football all the time since reporting to LSU in June. Third, Peterson plays cornerback rather than safety, and his position is one I've always heard is one a great athlete can come in and play immediately. Perhaps safety is a little more complicated, but I don't know that.
This all points to two competing factors: 1) Peterson's an awesome talent, and 2) Peterson is probably still very raw. How is it going to shake out?
Well, here's what I would do if I was the coaches. Don't do what we did with Chad Jones and put him on all the special teams. I know it's typical to work players into the special teams units while they're learning and waiting their turns to play a position, but this is a kid who may earn a starter's job pretty soon. Work him the opposite way by not overloading him with special teams assignments. Let him just learn to play cornerback, and work him into special teams starting next year. This will maximize his development at the cornerback position.
I say this because it appears cornerback is a position where we really can get an upgrade. If we were very solid at cornerback, I would suggest just playing Peterson on special teams or in nickel and dime packages to get him on the field, but our cornerback play is one of our big question marks heading into the season. If you believe cgisclair, cornerback play has been one of our weak points this Fall:
Cornerbacks: Have made technique problems and are not SEC ready in my opinion. But lucky for LSU, they have three warmup games to get ready. The cornerbacks do not get beat deep often and they are rarely out of position. They just do not look toward the ball as often as they should and get a lot of cheap pass interference penalties.
Unit Grade: C+
And, uh, he's an LSU fan. Yikes. they could be looking for some help.