Breaking down Patrick Peterson in press-coverage

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Let’s talk Patrick Peterson. The former LSU CB is a top five talent and without question the No.1 prospect at the position. Speed (4.34 40), size (6-0, 219) and play making ability out of the SEC—where game tape is treated like gold.

Today, I want to look at his interception from the 2010 season vs. Mississippi State, because we get to see Peterson aligned in press-man coverage and playing the football down the field. A good view of technique and overall athletic ability at the CB position.

Check out the replay and then we will get into some detailed coaching points.

Click here to see a video breakdown of press-coverage from Super Bowl XLV.

Coaching points:

1. Press-man technique: Not perfect technique from Peterson. He “hops” with his initial footwork (which widens his base), but the key here is that he can recover—and move laterally. You have to stay square to the line of scrimmage, get your hands on the WR and force a long, wide release. Remember, footwork and staying square to the QB are much more important in press-coverage than an initial jam. Because if you alter the release and stay in front of the WR, you will win in the secondary. Peterson forces the WR to the numbers in this situation. That's good football.

Patrick PetersonICONPeterson is a top five prospect.

2. Close the gate: I use the term “opening the gate” all of the time when I talk the technique of man-coverage. Too often, we see DBs that will open their hips and try to run with a WR from a press alignment. Some players can get away with it (think Antonio Cromartie of the Jets), but it is poor technique—and it gets you beat. Here, we see the opposite, because Peterson moves laterally with his eyes on the QB. That shows complete control of the WR, and it allows him to use his hands and stay “in-phase” (play to bottom hip of WR). I like seeing this.

3. Play the ball: Go get the football. That’s what I want to see from my DBs if I am coaching. Ball is in the air, then attack the up field shoulder of the WR and play the pass at the highest point. Is their contact here? Of course, but go up over the receiver and take the ball away. No need to play though the hands, because Peterson has position here to work through the WR to the ball. You want DBs that finish the play.

4. Open field skills: When I played with Sean Taylor in Washington, we couldn’t wait to see what he would do once he got his hands on the football. Natural in the open field. Peterson has that. We know what he can do in the kick return game and that carries over on defense once he makes a play. Score and set up field position, because he is looking to advance the football up the field. To put it in better terms, the guy is a playmaker.

How soon does Peterson come off of the board? If Carolina goes QB at No.1, it is going to be tough for John Fox and the Broncos to pass him up at No.2. Bottom line here: he should project as an opening day starter as a rookie in the NFL.

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