Conventional wisdom holds that you don't take defensive backs with the first few picks in the draft.
Patrick Peterson is not a conventional defensive back.
The LSU cornerback may not land with the Carolina Panthers -- though he's in the conversation -- but he'll likely go shortly thereafter if they don't take him with the top pick. A rare mix of size, speed and cover ability, Peterson was able to leave school early because, as he said, he had achieved almost all his goals.
"I hope I can be in play for the first pick," Peterson said. "It is what it is. The Panthers have the final say-so. It doesn't matter what I think, what I have to say about it. It's truly an honor and a blessing to be in this position, anyway.
"I'm just going to continue taking one thing at a time and waiting for April 28 and see what that day brings me."
Aside from historical biases, Peterson's also part of a strong crop of cover players. Seattle general manager John Schneider called the position "a real good class. I think it's one of the strengths of the draft, sure."
And while some think Nebraska's Prince Amukamara could be a close second, most feel Peterson could be the one to shatter the defensive back draft record.
The winner of the Bednarik (top defensive player) and Thorpe (top defensive back) awards, he joked that only Cam Newton kept him from making more of a push for the Heisman.
No cornerback has been drafted higher than third overall (Shawn Springs, Seattle, 1997).
Even Deion Sanders, perhaps the best cover man of all time, was the fifth overall choice in 1989. While it's hard to argue with Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders and Derrick Thomas ahead of him -- all three of whom are in the Hall of Fame with Sanders -- there was the inclusion of tackle Tony Mandarich, which says as much about the pecking order of certain positions as much as the players themselves.
But the old rules about defensive backs may not apply to Peterson. He measured 6 feet and 219 pounds, and said with a straight face that he hopes to run his 40-yard dash in the 4.2-second range "if not the low 4.3s," he said.
Ask him about his strengths, and you get a laundry list of superlatives. As physical as he is, some think he can be an excellent safety down the line, but right now he's focusing on being the best cornerback in a good group.
"I'd probably say my ball skills, toughness, I can support the run," Peterson said. "I'm an all-around cornerback and that's what I wanted to do coming out of college. I definitely want to continue that trend going into the NFL."
Toward that end, he said he emulated Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson, primarily because of his versatility.
"I don't want to be the next Charles Woodson, but I definitely want to pattern my game after Charles Woodson," Peterson said. "He can play each and every defensive position on the field. If they gave him the opportunity to play D-tackle or D-end, he'd definitely do it.
"That's something I want to show the world that I can learn the scheme and understand the scheme as well. If they need me to play dime, if they need me to play corner, strong safety, rover, I'm definitely down for it."
He's also willing to return punts and kicks, something few teams are interested in their blue-chip investments doing.
He averaged 29.1 yards per kickoff return and 16.1 per punt return (with two touchdowns) for the Tigers last year.
"I'm down for whatever the team, whatever decision the team, the special teams coach, the defensive coordinator, whatever decision those guys come up with, I'm down for it," he said of returning. "I just want to play the game of football and play the game I love."