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Peterson Is The Pick

LSU cornerback becomes Cards' choice at fifth overall


New Cardinal cornerback Patrick Peterson gets his jersey from commissioner Roger Goodell at the draft in New York Thursday night.

Patrick Peterson has been at a Cardinals' game before, having watched his cousin – former Cards cornerback Bryant McFadden – play against Green Bay in the riveting 51-45 overtime playoff win after the 2009 season.

Perhaps Peterson can now provide some of his own memorable moments at University of Phoenix Stadium, after the Cards nabbed the Louisiana State cornerback with the fifth overall pick in Thursday's night's NFL draft.

"I saw the last mock draft by Mr. Mel Kiper and (it) said he had me at the fifth spot," Peterson said. "But when they called me, the emotion went straight through the roof because it is going to be fun to be an Arizona Cardinal."

The draft continues with rounds two and three Friday afternoon. !

Peterson, rated by some as the best player in the draft (general manager Rod Graves later said the Cards had Peterson fifth on their board), will impact the Cards immediately on both defense and special teams. He will work into the mix with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler and figures to eventually take Toler's spot and team with DRC as starters.

Peterson also is an explosive return man and should be used that way immediately, although coach Ken Whisenhunt said it may take some time to learn punt returning in the pros.

Still, "a lot of the skills he has I think translate very well to the NFL," Whisenhunt said.

"When you have a chance to get a player a lot of people feel like is the best player in the draft, you have to take those opportunities."

All along, Whisenhunt talked about wanting an impact player at No. 5. He never ruled out taking a quarterback that would need grooming, but it made sense that wouldn't be the direction the Cards went even if someone like Blaine Gabbert was on the board.

Gabbert was indeed available when the Cards were ready to pick, but Peterson was much too talented to pass upon. The Cards only thought a few players in the draft had superstar potential, and Peterson was one of them (as well as defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver A.J. Green, all of whom were chosen by the time the Cards were on the clock).

Trading might have been an option. The Browns, picking sixth, ended up dealing with Atlanta, dropping all the way back to 27th but picking up the Falcons' second- and fourth-rounders this year and Atlanta's first and fourth in 2012. It was a hefty bounty (and it's unknown if it was even offered to Arizona) but Graves said the Cards were happy to take Peterson.

"We had a number of calls over the last 24 or 48 hours and most were just expressing interest in moving," Graves said. "But as soon as the first few picks rolled in, we thought we'd have the chance at an outstanding player, so we decided to stay put."

The Cards had at least one happy teammate. Tweeted defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, "I known him 4two years he works hard and plays hard! GREAT PICK COACH WHIZ!"

There have been some that wonder if the 6-foot-1, 219-pound Peterson will be better served playing safety in the pros, but Peterson put the brakes on that idea. "Anybody can voice their opinion, but for me, I definitely want to be a corner for my NFL career," Peterson said.

Peterson said practicing against Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will make him better quickly, but "I believe I am all the way NFL-ready."

"I am definitely going to come in and start right away," he added.

Peterson's cousins, besides McFadden, include NFL receivers Santana and Sinorice Moss. Now it's time for Peterson to be the one the family comes to watch play in the pros.

"(Football) is all we did play at our family reunions," Peterson said. "I used to play street football all the time back home with my boys. I know those guys are happy for me and I know the first thing when I get back those guys are going to say, 'Street football finally paid off.' "

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