Discourage? Aaron Rodgers doesn’t so much discourage front-line rookie cornerbacks as much as he completely emasculates them. Since 2010, the Green Bay Packers’ all-world quarterback has lined up against a rookie corner taken in the first round of the previous spring’s NFL Draft four times. And to call the end results one-sided in those contests would be selling it short:
+ Four wins, no losses.
+ 92 completions on 130 attempts (70.8 percent).
+ 1,271 yards, or 317.75 per tilt.
+ 16 touchdowns, one pick.
+ Passer rating: 138.17.
Welcome to the big stage, Marcus Peters.
Now, granted, half those Rodgers poundings came last fall, in two meetings against the Chicago Bears’ “defense,” and then-rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller (cumulative ProFootballFocus.com grade versus Rodgers in ’14: -5.4). The samples are impressive, but the size ain’t exactly large.
Still, it’s a hell of a bar. Irresistible force, meet immovable you-know-what. Peters, the Kansas City Chiefs’ first-year cornerback, has the early inside track on AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and we’re more than a month away from Halloween. The kid out of the University of Washington leads the NFL with seven pass break-ups through his first two contests with two picks — the first on his first-ever NFL series, at Houston, and the second a pick-6 against one of the great Chiefs killers of all-time in Peyton Manning.
Also of note: In crunch time last week, Manning tended to pick on Jamell Fleming, given a choice. Which is the ultimate sign of respect for a corner at this level — lack of opportunity, a force field created by coverage and fear. Darrelle Revis stuff. Richard Sherman stuff.
Like the Bruce Lee movie “The Game of Death,” the Chiefs’ first-round find keeps climbing up the pagoda, a new opponent waiting at each ascending level.
Monday at Lambeau: The Big Bad. Rodgers.
“He’s a competitive kid,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters late last week when asked about Peters’ emergence. “I mentioned this before, you have to have a short memory when you’re out on the edge there.
“You also have to have talent — that helps. And he’s got both. He’s able to learn from his mistakes and then come right back at it and challenge you again.”
Week 3’s challenge, though, might just take the cake. Rodgers has yet to toss an interception (against five scores) and ranks second in the circuit in completion percentage (76.8) while turning the back-shoulder toss into his own personal martial arts form.
It’s also the best — or worst, depending on your perspective — kind of hazing you can toss at a rookie cornerback. Of those aforementioned first-round defensive backs, the cumulative ProFootballFocus.com rating for their first meeting against Rogers was a less-than-encouraging -5.8, or -1.45 on average.
Peters hits the weekend ranked 11th among PFF’s top cornerbacks with a +2.3 rating through Week 2. If he’s still in the Top 15 after Monday night, there might not be that much more left to prove.