2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Oklahoma State CB Kevin Peterson

Oklahoma State cornerback Kevin Peterson (1) is called for pass interference on a pass to TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson (9) during the first quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

As we delve into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Steelers are likely to have interest in.

Back to the secondary today with Oklahoma State cornerback Kevin Peterson.

Kevin Peterson/CB Oklahoma St: 5’10/4 173

The Good

– Small frame but plays big, aggressive, and competitive nature
– Technically sound who stays in-phase in man coverage, keys the receiver’s eyes, and plays the pocket well
– Above average athlete with short-area burst and quickness who is able to transition out of his pedal without wasted motion and get downhill
– Embraces contact and will come down to support the run, a capable open field tackler
– Makes up for size with impressive vertical and timing, able to contest and high-point the football vertically
– Showed versatility, played both outside cornerback spots, field/boundary
– Has a high football IQ and plays hard, to the whistle, won’t need to be reminded to pay attention to details in the NFL

The Bad

– Far too light at current weight to play in the NFL, needs to add weight/muscle, and has short arms with small hands (30 1/2, 8 7/8 respectively), may not meet measurable prerequisite for all teams
– Over-aggressive and will gamble in coverage, caught looking in the backfield and not reading receiver’s route
– Lack of size predictably hurts him when matched up against bigger receivers, simply out-sized and out-muscled on vertical concepts
– Not a forceful, impactful tackler who needs to play with sound technique to bring the runner down
– Do see some stiffness transitioning downhill in bail technique, clearly not as comfortable as he was out of his normal pedal
– Needs to do a better job of understanding technique and leverage at the line of scrimmage, allows free releases to areas he shouldn’t (inside release with inside leverage)
– Straight line speed not awful but isn’t spectacular, likely will post just average numbers at the Combine
– Limited interception numbers in colllege


– Three year starter, finished career with 5 INTs, one his senior year
– Helped shut down WVU’s Kevin White in 2014
– State track champion in 100 and 200 meter dash in high school
– Successful running back in high school, rushed for over 1600 yards his senior year
– Reputation as a tough player who will play through injury, dealt with a knee injury that required a scope, missed one game, sat out of half another due to an ankle issue

Tape Breakdown

Though he weighed in at the Senior Bowl much lighter than I anticipated, I wonder if he was sick or something, I won’t be one to write him off. His tape talks a lot louder. If you know me and have read my reports, or have an inkling about what the Steelers look for in a corner, you know they have to be physical and play the run. And Peterson certainly embraces contact.

Here he is working off the pulling guard and making the tackle on the back out of bounds.

Granted, because of his lack of size, he is not a hugely impactful tackler. He won’t destroy anyone. To an extent, there is a struggle bringing the runner down. But he brings effort and works hard to wrap up, two positive and workable traits any coach can get onboard with.

If you have read my work too, you know I love cornerbacks that play the receivers eyes and play through their hands, playing the pocket and breaking passes up. Peterson does that very well and it’s one of my favorite traits.

His eyes go from tracking the ball on this throw across the field to the receiver’s eyes, swiping down with his hand to break the pass up to prevent the touchdown and preserve the Cowboys’ lead.

It’s shown again vertically against Corey Coleman. Digging this. Put it on a clinic tape. He’s not going to look back for the football and get out of phase, giving up the touchdown. Lock eyes on the receiver, watch his eyes and hands – they’ll tell you when the ball is coming. He breaks it up as Coleman begins to extend his hands, creating the incompletion.

And a still of it from another angle. This is how I want my cornerbacks to play the football in man coverage.


Earlier in that Baylor game, here’s Peterson in zone, getting depth while finding the football, timing his jump well, and breaking up the throw.

He can be aggressive and lose track of his receiver in man to man coverage. This is Cover 1 (man-free). Peterson gets caught looking in the backfield, losing the receiver, and with the rub creating, giving up more separation. The quarterback never gets the throw off but that’s irrelevant. Negative play by Peterson.

This is zone, what looks like a coverage called Cover 3 cone, but watch the poor technique by Peterson. Lined up inside shade but jumps outside on the snap and lets the receiver win inside. No reason to play that shade if you’re going to give up your leverage so easily.

Like I wrote in the report, big, physical receivers are going to give Peterson fits. Laquon Treadwell scored on him twice and though Peterson didn’t play terribly on either, he just couldn’t compete against the hulking receiver.


I tweeted this out last night. I’m not big on comparisons, they’re generally silly and centered around just a couple of basic traits, but I get an E.J. Gaines feel from Peterson. Gaines was a harder hitter and better tackler but everything else is similar. From measurables, shorter arms and a little light, who are technicians and reputations for shutting down big-name college receivers (Gaines versus Michael Crabtree, Peterson vs White).

He’s not going to be the biggest, the fastest, viscerally most impressive player. But put on the tape and you see someone who catches your eye. An underrated player in this year’s class.

Projection: Late 2nd

Games Watched: vs Kansas St, vs Baylor, vs Ole Miss (Bowl)

Previous Player Profiles
Hunter HenryEli AppleLaquon TreadwellDadi NicolasKendall Fuller
Deion JonesJihad Ward

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Jeremy McClurg

    I agree mostly with your projection. Peterson is a sleeper corner in this draft to the Draft media, as people like CBS sports, Walterfootball etc. have him going in the 5th round on back. 2nd to 3rd round projection for me

  • MattHat121

    I think the Ole Miss game is a better projection of how he’ll do in the NFL against bigger/faster/stronger receivers like Treadwell. That is, not so well.

  • TroymanianDevil

    I live in Texas so I see the Big 12 everyday. As a rule of thumb, I don’t want any corners from Ok St, the same school where Justin Gilbert went. That and I just don’t see enough from his tape, the NFL is full of Treadwell type WRs.

  • Gizmosteel

    This is the correct answer. OK State, Texas Tech, Kansas State, et al have no business sending any defensive players to the NFL. There’s a reason score are routinely 56-49. No thanks.

  • PittsburghSports

    Wow 2nd rd? I’ve heard you talking about him, but didn’t think you had him that high. I like the tape, especially against Baylor. He just let Coleman go by him on that one pass though, without slowing him down at all. Kinda reminded me of how well our CBs pass off WRs to Mitchell. I thought he kinda puss’d out on that QB keeper TD run at the end. Was also wondering if he was supposed to allow an inside release on Treadwell’s 2nd TD in the Ole Miss game. So many good players in that 2nd rd area. Not sure Peterson is there, but either was Senquez Golson last year,.

  • Spencer Krick

    Would be a great pick in the 3rd, not so sure I’d be happy with him in the 2nd.

  • Alex Kozora

    He’ll probably go later than that but I really dig his tape if he can add weight and be a slightly more impactful tackler. He looks refined and I think he can contribute heavily if you needed him to. I could readjust my rankings the further we go into this thing but I won’t put him lower than a mid-3rd.

  • LucasY59

    I wasnt that excited about last yrs 2nd rd CB, and if Peterson is this yrs 2nd rd CB I wouldnt be excited, I guess at least they are picking in a rd where they should find a good CB talent, but not sure if he is the guy to really help the Steeler secondary. there are lots of guys at other positions that would be more exciting picks, and maybe even other CBs. I like that he seems to be a solid cover guy, but if somehow its between Fuller and him in the 2nd I would be very disappointed if they chose Peterson… my opinion might change if he was the 3rd or 4th pick

  • Matt Manzo

    I agree! 2nd seems a little high.

  • Steve Johnson

    5’10/173LBS? Really? C’Mon Man, high school players are bigger than that. Too small for the NFL. Sounds like another Dri Archer/Curtis Brown type player. No Thanks.

  • Steve Johnson

    2nd, 3rd and 4th. Maybe in the 5th.

  • Vinhuddle

    Great 4-5th rounder but doubt he’d last that long. Like everyone has posted, definitely needs to add some weight/muscle. Put him through the Deebo workout regiment. He actually looks lighter than some of the weights in Deebo’s workout video posts.

  • Alex Kozora

    Like I said, he was listed at much heavier, and I really wonder if he was sick or something and that’s why his weight was down. He shouldn’t have a problem adding some weight back on.

  • gregzimmerman007

    Sign him (Peterson) up. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

  • Madi

    Sounds like 1st round pick for the Houston Texans, Kevin Johnson, who just finished a solid rookie campaign.

    And Curtis Brown did not fail because he was small. Quite the contrary. He was a good special teamer, great at gunning punts and bringing down returners. He just couldn’t cover.

  • Brendon Glad

    That’s how you want CB’s to play in man-to-man? I guess, if they are always losing their leverage.
    How about maintaining leverage, finding the ball, and going and getting it like it’s your own?
    Easier said than done…but it has been, is being, and will be done by the very best. That’s what I like.

  • Brendon Glad

    For example, Quenten Rollins’ tape on here last year was way more the kind of tape I hope the Steelers start being impressed with. (He’s just the most recent CB scouting report on here that got me excited).