John Elway eyed countless cornerbacks during his Hall-of-Fame career.
And there is some belief he’s closely examining another – LSU’s Patrick Peterson — in his new role as Denver’s vice president of football operations.
The Broncos’ recent re-signing of All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey might mean far fewer mock drafts have Denver taking Peterson with the No. 2 overall pick. And if the Broncos look to address other needs, of course, it increases the possibility Peterson could be available when the 49ers pick at No. 7.
But Peterson-to-Denver talk isn’t officially dead. Elway was asked about Peterson this week at the combine and he’d clearly done some homework on the Bednarik and Thorpe award winner.
“He is a great athlete and not only as a (defensive) player, but as a returner,” Elway said. “He is special as a returner. He is a guy that can do a lot of different things for you. Athletically, he is as good as anybody in the draft … He has good size and is a guy that can make some big plays. I think especially at the cornerback position, you like those guys that can make those plays, because those are game changers.”
Now, most front-office types have been more tight-lipped when asked about specific draft prospects this week. So, thinking counterintuitively, Elway’s effusive praise could be viewed as a you-better-trade-with-us-if-you-want-Peterson bluff.
Regardless, Elway obviously isn’t alone on the Peterson bandwagon.
I spoke to former NFL scout Chris Landry, a current scouting consultant to NFL teams, about Peterson earlier this week. Landry, who lives in Louisiana and is a former LSU assistant coach, said he watched plenty of Peterson during his career and he even provided a few insights into his personality.
A few notes before diving in … Peterson was listed by LSU as 6-1, 222 pounds this past season … the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said he was a little “stiff” and might be best-suited to eventually play safety during his career … Peterson had a history of leg cramps at LSU … Peterson is scheduled to speak to the media today at the combine:
Q: One of the first things people seem to talk about is his size for a cornerback …
CL: He’s vey unusually built in a positive way in that he’s got very long arms. He’s got a long angular build. He does have great feet. He does have great turn and run speed. So he is built a lot like a safety, but with corner capabilities. So he’s a guy who’s got some unusual qualities to play on a lot of different levels.
Q: Is there another NFL cornerback, past or present, you would compare him to size-wise? Does his size mean he will eventually move to safety?
CL: He is really very, very unusual in that he’s bigger than Nnamdi Asomugha was coming out or even Rod Woodson. He’s got some of those skills that are really a lot different. And while I think that he could play safety in the league without question, and may do it down the road, I think he’s got the ability to play corner and play on different schemes. I think he’s going to have to improve his technique a little bit. As superior athletes tend to do, they tend to rely on that a little bit more, particularly in college when he can false step and make up for it with exceptional athletic skills. He’ll have to sharpen that up a little bit. But he is a really good worker, a super character guy, a bubbly personality – he’s got a lot of the traits you look for intangible-wise to go along with his physical gifts.
Q: You feel like he could corner or safety equally effectively? In other words, his size doesn’t mean he will have to transition to safety at some point?
CL: He’s got ability to cover as a corner in the NFL that would put him in the upper echelon of the league right now. It’s just a matter of what type of scheme you want to play. In different schemes, you may want a guy that can play more snaps at safety. Now the big thing is going to be what do you want to do with him early? You don’t want to overload him and teach him two positions. Initially, you want to teach him one and then let him bleed over to the other … I think the luxury is that he has tremendous physical skills that allow him to do both. I don’t think it will be that ‘Well, he can’t play corner. We’ll move him inside to safety.’ I don’t see him as that type of guy. He’s not like a Malcolm Jenkins type of guy that was a corner at Ohio State that the Saints took and knew that he would probably have to be moved inside to safety. And he was.
Q: He had a lot of problems with leg cramps in college. Is that a concern for NFL teams?
CL: I think these kids tend to take a lot of these supplements — creatine and things like that (creatine is not banned by NCAA). I think that is an issue that will be solved pretty quickly. They never could quite get it (at LSU). You can’t take that type of stuff during the season. He is very, very tight — put together. You have to be careful … you shouldn’t be taking that stuff during the season and it’s not as supervised as closely as it at the NFL level. So I think that’s going to be easily corrected. But if there’s anything in his blood that can determine ‘Hey, he’s got some issues’ that will be determined this week in Indy. I don’t get any indication that anybody’s concerned about it.