Can Marcus Peters keep it together off the field? The Kansas City Chiefs certainly think so, selecting him No. 18 in the 2015 NFL draft.
Is Marcus Peters the most talented of the incoming rookie cornerbacks? There is certainly a case to be made, at least based on how Peters performed when he last saw him, prior to his dismissal from Washington's program. That disappointing incident and a ho-hum combine showing conspired to keep Peters behind fellow CBs Trae Waynes and Kevin Johnson in Round 1, but the Chiefs won't have any complaints.
Peters fits the NFL corner mold, at a solidly built 6'0" and 197 pounds with length. He likes to get up in receivers' faces at the line and push them around physically. Kansas City was rather stout against the pass last season as it was, but the cornerback spot needed some depth and a bruiser like Peters. He'll have to prove he can keep it together, on and off the field. The talent is there, without question. Of course, the Chiefs could have used a wide receiver here—they infamously got zero touchdowns from the position last season.
Strengths: If you asked scouts to design a draftable cornerback, the result would look something like Peters. Terrific, well-proportioned CB size, and he's not hesitant to put it to work in physical coverage. Forces receivers to work extremely hard to beat press coverage. Downfield, stays planted in receivers' hip pockets. Thrives on playmaking opportunities—totaled eight INTs and 24 pass break-ups combined between 2013 and '14. Seldom are the times when Peters's receiver makes an easy catch. Steps up on run plays and hunts the action. Unlike some others at his position, Peters makes a habit of getting into the mix at or behind the line of scrimmage to find a ballcarrier. Drives through his tackles. Should continue to be a tough out in the red zone—forces receivers outside and uses his length to high point the football.
Weaknesses: Most of the focus here will be on character concerns, thanks to Peters's early dismissal from Washington's program. Runs extremely hot during games, hence his repeated sideline run-ins with the coaching staff. Penalties and overplays could mount at the NFL level if he cannot keep his emotions in check. As is the case with Trae Waynes, likely the leading contender to be the first cornerback taken, Peters can expect some tough moments transitioning to the NFL's offense-friendly rules. He generates contact all over the field, so he'll be hit with some flags early in his career. Physical receivers that can withstand his press technique will find openings against him if they force Peters to flip his hips. Average speed (4.53 40 at the combine) may cost him a few plays on deep routes.
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