This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Keep up to date on our Baker's Dozen series here.
Today we're joined by not one, but two LSU bloggers who were more than happy to talk about one of the greatest Tigers ever, CB Patrick Peterson. Stephen Baker and Billy Gomila from SB Nation's LSU blog, And The Valley Shook, stop by and fill us in on Peterson's impressive college resume.
"Peterson really could do it all, but he was used primarily as a man-to-man shutdown corner," began Baker. "When you have a guy who can stop the best receiver all by his lonesome, you tend to use him that way. Due to the proliferation of the spread in the SEC, LSU runs a lot of nickel packages as well. It's not like Peterson can't play in the zone, he's an extremely smart player, but if you have a shutdown corner - why not use him?"
"It's an overused term, but Peterson truly was a shut-down cornerback," continued Gimila. "Last season the defense was able to essentially roll everything away from him as he locked his side down. He's big and physical at the line of scrimmage and smooth and fast in his backpedal. He did line up in a few different zone positions in some games, including at linebacker against teams that would motion their better receivers into the backfield, but for the most part he stayed man-up - and with few exceptions, his man was essentially erased from the game. There were even times when teams seemed afraid to run the ball at him."
Peterson was not only a leader on defense, but for the entire LSU squad.
"While he's an undeniable talent, he is also a team leader," said Baker. "Peterson wasn't just out for his own production, he made everyone around him better. Our offense could have been charitably described as anemic these last two years, and this team easily could have fallen into two camps. Instead, Peterson vocally supported the offense, particularly beleaguered quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Instead of the team falling apart, it rallied as one. Peterson is a huge reason for that."
On top of his cornerback role, Peterson was also a special return man for LSU, something Bills GM Buddy Nix says he values at the third overall pick.
"He completely changed how opposing offenses had to attack the LSU defense the last two seasons," said Gomila. "And in 2010 he became one of the scariest return men I've seen at LSU. Honestly, without the field position he kept the Tiger offense in, I'm fairly sure the team couldn't have won 11 games."
Bakers adds: "He also was LSU's primary return man last year, and he displayed incredible field awareness and speed. While he was always a threat to break one, he was also good for 15-20 yards every return. It wasn't boom or bust, it was consistent production."
In clutch situations, when his team needed him, Peterson excelled.
"He is as clutch as clutch comes," notes Baker. "Peterson made a huge return to blow open the West Virginia game. His interception in the red zone sealed the Mississippi State game. Though the play didn't stand, his pick against Alabama in 2009 was epic and could have keyed a comeback. Peterson made big play after big play. Peterson wanted the spotlight, and the way you get the spotlight is by making big plays. Peterson never backed down from covering the best player or coming up with the big play."
He never shied away from the spotlight or big situations, according to Gamil:
"Peterson always sought the spotlight of being the No. 1 cornerback in the country, but he also sought that responsibility. He wanted the other team's best shot, and while he got it against fellow first-rounders like A.J. Green and Julio Jones, he was rarely challenged otherwise."
Off the field, Peterson gets similarly glowing reviews - with one exception. A few weeks ago, word began to spread that a man named William Lyles was offering Peterson to Texas A&M in a pay-for-play scenario. Baker, who sees it as a non-issue, took the time to explain it for us.
"There's a guy named William Lyles who runs a recruiting service who very well may be a street agent," says Baker. "LSU has paid Lyles for his services in the past, $6,000 for video of all JUCO players in two states (so $3,000 per state). This payment was disclosed to the NCAA.
"Anywho, a former Texas A&M coach who was in charge of Peterson's recruitment recently told a reporter that Lyles told him that he could secure Peterson for the Aggies for $80,000. Peterson issued a strenuous denial. He never made an official visit to A&M, he has no relationship with Lyles nor ever has, and he pointed out he is not going to jeopardize his NFL career over $80K. The kid ain't lacking in confidence. Since then, the story has completely stalled."
Baker says this type of attitude is nothing new, saying Peterson has always had his eye on a bigger prize.
"Peterson is a guy who always came off as a professional playing in college," continued Baker. "Football was this guy's job, and he was as dedicated to his craft as possible. To bring up the elephant in the room, look at his denial of taking money to play college football. He essentially said, 'Why on earth would I jeopardize my career for $80,000?' This is a guy who always knew he'd be making millions in the NFL. His whole life has been geared for this moment."
One notable off-the-field event happened when he signed at LSU. Peterson changed his last name from "Johnson," his mother's maiden name. Baker explains:
"His dad is Patrick Peterson, but he was not married to his mother when little Patrick was a kid. When he signed with LSU, his dad had married his mother, and he took it as an opportunity to honor his father by taking his last name."
These college bloggers are here to help us with our prospects' off-the-field issues. As such, we asked them about parties, reputations, and other non-football related issues. Both bloggers had nothing on Peterson.
"I do know that Peterson was known as a hard worker and a gym rat, and has generally carried himself in a very poised and professional manner, so I would imagine that carried over to his personal life," explains Gomila. "He came to campus as the No. 1 recruit in his class, so he's generally always had some spotlight on him."
We'll close this section of the article with the bloggers' closing statements:
"I know I'm gushing, but Peterson is an unbelievably great player," said Baker. "And the crazy thing is I'm not sure he's reached his fullest potential. The sky is the limit for this guy. He was the best player on the team for two straight seasons, and by a fairly wide margin. LSU's not exactly hurting for talent, but the gap between Peterson and everyone else is massive. He is probably the best player I have ever seen in an LSU uniform."
"He's one of the best players in school history by any measure, and he'll be remembered as a star that delivered on his promise, almost every time," said Gomila. "He was a star player from out of state who came to campus, fell in love with LSU and left here with an even greater affection for it. And that's just a great thing to see in my opinion."
Both bloggers also hoped that if the Buffalo Bills drafted Peterson, we would continue with the nickname "Zod." They note that Peterson is "capable of taking out Superman himself."
While there is plenty more talk about Peterson from these two bloggers, we had a space requirement. Look for the rest of the interview in the FanPost section sometime later today. Thanks again to Stephen Baker and Billy Gomila for their willingness to talk Peterson. Head over to And The Valley Shook to get more info on LSU and the Tigers that prowl there.