Pertinent Purple Topics: Can Patrick Peterson Be a Strong CB2?

Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift (32) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) and cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) during the second half at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Peterson, in all likelihood, will never return to the All-Pro, shutdown level that characterised much of his career in Arizona.

Before coming to Minnesota, Peterson was one of the league’s preeminent defensive players. He was chosen 5th overall in the 2011 draft. It didn’t take too long before he made an impact on defense and on special teams. For a while, he was one of the NFL’s more dangerous returners, putting together 4 TDs during his rookie year.

The Vikings are hoping Patrick Peterson can be a good – not great – corner. Of course, the team will gladly take an unexpected trip back into elite territory. Nevertheless, it’s clear that’s not what the team expects. He was brought back to Minnesota on a one-year, $4 million deal (with a void year in 2023 to lessen the current cap hit). It’s the kind of money that suggests that the team values him without expecting him to shoulder a huge burden.

He played reasonably well in a defense that struggled in 2022. QBs only completed 56.6% of their passes into his coverage; QBs collectively had a 78.7 passer rating when targeting him. For context, Kirk Cousins had a 66.3 completion percentage and 103.1 QB rating in 2021. In other words, QBs were a fair bit worse than Cousins when going after Peterson in coverage.

PFF gave Patrick Peterson a 63.0 score last season, the 57th score out of 116 corners. Ideally, Peterson could push that score a little higher. Getting around the 70.0 mark isn’t altogether unrealistic. Last year, a 70.0 score would have put him in the top 30 corners in the league.

Part of the issue and intrigue for Minnesota’s secondary rests in the fact that they’re working with so much youth. Lewis Cine and Camryn Bynum will likely be strong players, but we can’t say for certain. At corner, the team will be relying on Andrew Booth Jr. and Akayleb Evans, two recently drafted corners. Oh, and Cameron Dantzler is still only in his third season. The veteran Peterson thus stands out as a key part of this defense. His experience and intelligence will help elevate everyone else’s game.

Bringing in Ed Donatell should help the corners. The defense will generate pressure with some consistency and likely simplify things for the corners. In so doing, Patrick Peterson has a chance of putting together a strong 2022.