Corbin Smith

Peterson Better Than Sherman? Not A Chance

Created on May. 26, 2014 10:29 AM EST

Only two weeks ago, Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson used a subtle approach to declare himself the league's best player at his respective position. He spoke about how his versatility made him more valuable than Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks or Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns, but he opted not to verbally attack either player.

By Thursday, however, Peterson's tactics changed. Like Sherman, he will be entering his fourth NFL season when training camp opens in August, and he's hoping to break the bank with a monster extension. When the Cardinals appeared unwavered by his comments a few weeks ago, he knew he needed to raise the stakes a bit to put himself in a better position to become the league's highest paid corner. Salaries in this league are primarily based on comparables, and Peterson must believe the best way to justify his worth to his franchise is by starting a verbal spar with Sherman, a player who is widely viewed as the best at his position.

During an interview with KMVP-FM on Thursday, Peterson said that Sherman would never last in Arizona's system and that in his eyes, Seattle's star doesn't qualify as a "shutdown corner."

"I don't want to get in a debate as far as stats that he has and things like that," Peterson said. "Obviously his job is definitely much easier than mine. But if you look at their scheme and at our scheme, he's a Cover 3 corner. Period. A lot of guys say he's a shutdown corner.

But if you look at film and guys who understand the game, go back and look at film and see how his defense is. I believe that if you put him in our system, I don't believe he'll be able to last, honestly. Because I actually do much more than he is (doing)."

There's no doubt that Sherman benefits from playing alongside Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in Seattle's defensive scheme. Any corner would enjoy having that type of protection behind them. To an extent, Peterson may have an argument when he talks about having a tougher job with the Cardinals. But if you watch enough game film, you'll understand that Sherman's greatness isn't predicated on simply "covering space" as Peterson stated during his interview - and stats don't lie.

Peterson deserves to be paid as a Top 5 cornerback in this league. There would be no dispute here if he made similar money to Darrelle Revis or Joe Haden, especially considering his worth as a punt returner and occasional usage on offense. He's a talented player who has shown flashes of being elite, but he's also had contests where opposing receivers made him look average. Sherman has consistently been the best corner in the league, and his career numbers back it up. Aside from getting burned a few times by T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts last year, he shut down whoever he defended each week and made countless clutch plays to help Seattle win games.

When looking at last year's stats for Sherman, Peterson, Revis and Haden, it becomes apparent quickly which player had the greatest impact. Nothing changes the complexion of a football game quite like a turnover, and Sherman has become the master at generating interceptions. Not only did he dominate his competition in the interception field a year ago, his 20 picks since arriving in the league in 2011 ranks first among all players. He also forced four fumbles in that span, further cementing his status as the best turnover-creating cornerback in the game. His performance is clearly not a fluke, and he's only going to get better as he enters the prime of his career.

Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks 30-59 50.8% 456 2-8 48.4 16 48
Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals 42-87 48.3% 571 6-3 78.3 13 42
Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns 44-96 45.8% 505 5-4 62.2 20 54
Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots 35-60 58.3% 490 5-2 98.6 11 50

Every corner in the previous chart gave up more touchdowns than interceptions except for Sherman, who ended up hauling in six more picks than touchdowns surrendered. And he did this while being targeted roughly 30 times less last year than Haden or Peterson. If that's not enough ammunition to declare Sherman the best player from this group, take a few minutes and watch Seattle's defensive highlights on YouTube. Teams simply refuse to throw towards him, and when quarterbacks do try to sneak a pass past him, he tends to make them pay for it. When opponents do manage to complete a pass against him, it's normally for a minimal gain and Sherman makes a clean tackle. If that doesn't define "shutdown corner," nothing will.

Peterson is a great talent in his own right, but he needs to be careful about who he initiates verbal confrontation with. He's only 23 years old, so he's a younger player who still has plenty of room to grow, but at this stage, Sherman is the better corner by a wide margin. His presence affects opposing game plans and last time I checked, completely shutting down half of the field is way more effective than inconsistently defending the entire field. Peterson's versatility makes him a valuable commodity and there's no question he'll get paid. His comments have created the buzz he hoped they would, and could help lead to a new deal more quickly.

At the end of the day, however, he's not the best. Richard Sherman is, and should remain so for the foreseeable future.

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