Arizona Cardinals new head coach Bruce Arians caused shockwaves across the NFL this weekend when he claimed that Patrick Peterson could be a top-five wide receiver in the league this season.
Peterson is a cornerback. However, that doesn’t seem to matter to Arians. The exciting and original coach started giving Peterson a few offensive reps early in the week. However, those few reps turned into a full-blown offensive package.
Darren Urban of the Arizona Cardinals broke the news from the Cardinals' training camp:
But it just isn’t the coach who seems to be smitten with the explosive LSU product. New quarterback Carson Palmer said, per the Arizona Cardinals blog, "He’d probably be just as good of a receiver, H-back or Percy Harvin-type player” according to Urban again.
There is no doubt that Peterson has the skill set to play a flex or slot wide receiver, like Harvin did for the Minnesota Vikings.
Harvin didn’t also play cornerback, though. Nonetheless, when Peterson isn’t locking down opposing wide receivers, he has been helpful for the Cardinals in other areas.
He has 1,125 return yards on 95 attempts with four touchdowns over two years as a punt returner. In 2012, he even had two rushing attempts and gained a total of 13 yards in addition to catching three passes for 11 yards.
Peterson packs 219 pounds in a 6-foot frame, so he has great size and strength. The shutdown corner is also incredibly fast, as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds on his NFL Combine day. He is blessed with solid football intelligence and has spent his time on the gridiron stopping wide receivers.
Why can’t the tables turn?
As noted before, the Cardinals have a huge package for Peterson as he primarily plays on the other side of the ball. This may sound crazy, but Arians is making a smart move.
Peterson is wonderfully talented and athletic. Putting him in for a couple offensive plays here and there would seriously throw off opposing defenses and make the Arizona offense plenty explosive.
Plus, Arians is an innovator and a brilliant NFL mind. He works with what he is given, proven by an excellent season last year leading the Indianapolis Colts. The coach creates gold using pieces of trash as he exploits and features the skill sets that his players do have.
Peterson isn’t a piece of trash, though. He is already pretty close to gold, and the possibilities for him on the offensive side of the ball are endless. They are enough to make even the toughest Cards fan giddy with excitement.
Additionally, Palmer, the new man in town, is a huge upgrade over the rotating cast Arizona boasted under center during last season. He isn’t going to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, but Palmer is a good quarterback who will be able to make Peterson a true talent at the wide receiver position.
However, we do have to be realistic here. Could Peterson be a top wide receiver in the NFL?
Yes, of course.
Will he be?
That isn’t because I don’t believe Peterson isn’t athletic or skilled enough. I do. The reason he won’t be a top wideout in the league is for the same reason that he will have the opportunity to play the position in the first place.
Because of the coaching staff.
The Cardinals offense could use a little boost, but I highly doubt that the coaches in Arizona will limit the time that Peterson plays on defense just so he could help out on the flip side of the ball.
The two-year veteran is too talented a corner for that to happen.
Peterson will probably be mixed in to the offense sporadically since he truly is a great weapon. But I just don’t see the coaches in Arizona taking the time to fully convert him from a cornerback to a wide receiver. It just wouldn’t make sense.
“My primary position is cornerback,” Peterson said after he heard the praise his coach showered on him, according to Chris Wesselling of NFL.com.
The possibilities are exciting, and the expanding package the Cardinals are creating is promising.
Even so, playing wide receiver and cornerback as a full-time starter is too much to ask of any player and would be nearly impossible.
Peterson is an explosive talent and will see many reps as a receiver this season. He will have a great year and might even succeed in the position, but in order to be a top wide receiver in the NFL, one has to play wide receiver almost full-time.
Sadly, that will most likely not happen.
Which position do you think Peterson should play? Talk back to me on my Twitter @realsovenbery or in the comments below!