Best Exciting Football Player - 2013
Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
Patrick Peterson won the national Chuck Bednarik Award as best college defensive player his last year at Louisiana State University, where he was a unanimous All-American in 2010, but that isn't what he's most famous for as an Arizona Cardinal. Oh, Arizona's fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft still plays defensive back, and plays the position well. But he's dazzled fans as a pro with his punt-return prowess: the Cardinals' rookie record for most punt returns in a season in 2011, four punt-return touchdowns, which ties the NFL record; a game-winning 99-yard touchdown in 2011, the longest of that season for the Cardinals; the team's most punt-return yardage in a single season, 699 in 2011; named All-Pro in 2011, and selected for the Pro Bowl in that year and the next. He scored his first NFL touchdown in Week One of the 2011 season, with a fourth-quarter punt return of 89 yards against the Carolina Panthers to seal a win for his new team. Peterson also is a bright spot on pure defense for new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. The cornerback has 111 solo tackles in just two seasons. On his first NFL play, he picked off San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers and returned the interception for a TD. In certain situations this year, the Cardinals plan to use Peterson as an offensive weapon. He proved he could go both ways last year when he rushed twice for 13 yards and caught three passes. With a new coach and a new QB, we predict that Peterson will show up regularly on the other side of the ball, and that will be fun to watch.