As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done in the past, these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.
One of the most polarizing players in the 2015 class. Washington cornerback Marcus Peters.
#21 Marcus Peters/CB – Washington 6’0 198
– Ideal size and length for the position
– As physical, aggressive as you could possibly hope for
– Thrives in press man coverage
– Tons of upper body strength, elite job of jamming receivers at the LOS
– Length and punch to win at the line
– Top instincts
– Explosive, can click and close, rallies to the football in a hurry
– Forceful, impactful tackler
– Impact player against the run, too
– Good vertical, can high point the football
– Has the speed to play the position
– Lots of special teams value
– Produced splash plays
– Can play either outside corner spot, typically shadowed best WR
– Serious character concerns, kicked off team, and yelled at coaches mid-game
– Must learn how to play with less contact, will be penalized too often in the NFL
– Uncomfortable when asked to play with a cushion
– May have some sloppy footwork, gets a little out of control
– Must be more consistent with his angles and tackling
– 20 career starts
– Dismissed from program November 6th
– Unsportsmanlike penalty against Eastern Washington, benched for the rest of the game, suspended the next week, did not start the rest of the season, though played, before dismissal
– Track record for getting into arguments with coaches
– Did not start 2013 Bowl game, benched for the first quarter
– Career: 11.5 TFL, 8 INT
– 2013 2nd team All-Pac 12
– Picked off seven passes, had six total kick/punt return touchdowns senior year of high school
– Also served as a WR and kicker in high school
Wow, where to begin. It’s impossible to start this break down with the on the field tape. The elephant in the room is what’s happened to Peters off the field.
Most everyone knows the very basics of the story. On November 6th, Washington head coach Chris Peterson announced Peters’ dismissal from the program, obviously ending his tumultuous season.
His first known incident dates back to the Kraft Hunger Bowl in 2013. Due to a violation of team rules, Peters was suspended by Huskies’ interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo, Peters took the loss of former head coach Steve Sarkisian particularly hard, for the first quarter of the game. He says it was for turning a final for class in late.
The school barred Peters from working out in the offseason for four weeks.
Peterson was hired for the start of this year. In the second game of 2014, an Eastern Washington receiver took Peters to the ground late on a run block. Peters was assessed a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty the following play for head-butting the receiver, a penalty Peters now admits was “stupid.” It kept the drive alive in a close game. The Huskies would go on to win by seven, 59-52. A GIF of the head butt is below.
Once on the sideline, Peters threw his gloves and helmet to the ground, and didn’t let coaches talk to him. He didn’t return the rest of the game and was suspended the following week against Illinois.
He came back to play the next six weeks though I’m fairly certain he didn’t start another game. For example, he didn’t play his first snap against Oregon until the second quarter. The Huskies’ corner was benched for two series against Stanford after being late to team meetings during the week.
After alleged arguments with coaches in practices and Peterson dismissed him from the team on November 6th.
Announcing it, the Huskies’ head coach said the following.
“We have high standards for players in our program and they are held accountable when those standards are not met. I wish Marcus the best in the completion of his education and in achieving his football goals. Marcus [has] got a lot of skill. I really do hope that he has a really good NFL career, there’s no doubt about that. And I think he can and we wish him a lot of luck going in that direction.”
This all sounds terrible – and it obviously is. But there are some caveats.
The story that Peters choked a coach is almost certainly false. Everyone on the Washington staff, including their defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, denies the accusation.
Peters has owned up to his mistakes in multiple interviews. He even admitted he would’ve thrown himself out of the Eastern Washington game, telling USA today:
“I just embarrassed the whole University of Washington program on live television – me throwing, as my mama would say, a hissy fit…I threw a hissy fit, man. I embarrassed my teammates, the coaching staff, the program, man. I wouldn’t have let me back on after that.”
If the words are worth anything, Peters sounds remorseful. From the same article.
“I apologized to him once again, and I told him that I appreciate [Coach Peterson] even working with me…they were working with me a lot, and I just – I didn’t get it. I didn’t see it in front of me that they were trying to help me out…To be honest, I would tell you today: Why wouldn’t you kick me off the team? [Peterson] was trying to help me. He was teaching me some hard lessons at that time, and I just didn’t take it right.”
Coach Peterson is also allowing Peters to work out at the school during their Pro Day on April 2nd.
Obviously, a lot to wade through, and we’ll revisit this at the end. But in a couple hundred words, there’s his background. A player who clearly has made a lot of mistakes but appears to have owned up to them.
On the field, it’s easy to see why many believe he is the best talent at his position in this year’s class. He’s the most physical corner in this class and dominates at the line. Possesses the length and strength to stone receivers. Physical and rides them on the line.
This is a run but you can see the punch Peters has at the line, knocking this Hawai’i receiver off the line.
At the top of the screen, watch Peters ride his receiver out of bounds. Quite literally takes him out of the play.
He showed to be an impact player in both phases. His forced fumbles were scarce, just one in his career, but he sure made it count, ripping the football away from this Oregon State running back.
Love his recognition and instincts. Quick reaction and a quick close. He’s in complete control of the receiver at the top of the screen, allowing zero separation, and then locates the ball in the air and helps break it up.
Forceful tackler who can take smaller receivers to the ground with ease. In this 2013 game, he easily shanks tiny Brandin Cooks to the ground.
He has some warts. When asked to play off coverage, like against an Oregon team that spread the field out, he looks a lot more uncomfortable. Still wants to be aggressive. Watch him sticks his eyes in the backfield as the receiver gets behind him.
He’s aggressive to a fault. Will have to learn to lay off past the five yard chuck zone in the NFL. With the emphasis on pass interference, he’s going to get himself in trouble with the referees. His temper isn’t going to help matters, either.
The receiver and corner are getting into it but this is near the ten yard marker. Refs are going to call it on the corner ninety percent of the time.
Got away with it there but called for interference on this play.
We’ll end where we began. The character. Peters did all the wrong things. Then said all the right words. What do you believe? Outsiders like myself attempt to make an accurate judgment on his character – are you willing to live with the known risks?
It’s an understandable and necessary decision to be made. And we can try to analyze it from this outsider’s perspective from every perspective. But it’s not a decision I can make with any confidence. To judge Peters’ correctly, you have to sit down and talk to him. Look at him in the eye, get the feel if you can trust him and if he’s truly remorseful. I can’t do that.
I’ll only judge Peters based on what I can actually see and be confident in – what I see on tape. It’s not ideal but making an obviously uneducated guess on a man’s character from a distance is even worse.
And what I see is arguably the best corner in this class. A tick above Trae Waynes, though it’s still close.
Obviously, the interview process at the Combine, Pro Day, and any pre-draft workouts are going to be vital. We know he can play. Showing up in shorts and a T-shirt isn’t going to help his case. If he keeps his head on straight, he can turn into a star.
Projection: 1st Round
Games Watched: vs Oregon St (2013), at Hawai’I, vs Eastern Washington, at Oregon
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