CFF Player Profile: Marcus Peters, CB
The 2015 cornerback class is definitely an interesting group to look at, with what starts to look like an underwhelming bunch at the top, slowly turning into a class where there is a decent amount of depth. What the class lacks are many players who look like they could develop into true shutdown corners, but there are plenty of players who look like solid No. 2 and nickel candidates.
One of those players who has the potential to develop into a No. 1 corner, albeit with some work needed to round out his play, is Washington’s Marcus Peters. A player who comes with potential off the field baggage to go along with a mean streak on the field, some teams will stay away from him for a variety of reasons, but if you’re drafting at the end of the first round, he’s the type of player who could be a steal.
Overview and Stats
Peters 2014 season was cut short by suspension, which limits what we have to go on from him, but the 598 snaps we did see were fairly impressive, if a little bit inconsistent. There were only two games where he had a negative grade in coverage, against Eastern Washington and Oregon, and he finished the season with a positive grade overall in that regard.
Those two games saw him allow 60 and 81 yards, respectively, and 141 of the 358 yards he allowed up until his suspension after the Week 10 game, and they also featured two of the three times he allowed a reception of 20 yards or more. The rest of the season he generally performed well, though he did his best work in the Week 4 win over Georgia State, picking off the only two passes thrown into his coverage. Those two poor games impacted his stats, which don’t make for great viewing, but highlight that he was a bit inconsistent in 2014.
The stats paint one picture of Peters, albeit skewed somewhat by two poor games, but what does the tape show? Well, for starters you’re probably not going to get a more aggressive cornerback in this draft class. Peters loves to get his hands on a receiver early in the play and not let go, sometimes resulting in a flag, but when he gets two hands on his target at the line of scrimmage, he looks very good.
As good as he is when he gets two hands on, though, he needs to be careful against faster wide receivers. He doesn’t possess fantastic top end speed, though he isn’t slow by any stretch, and if he can’t get a good jam on a faster receiver at the line of scrimmage, he’s going to struggle to match them downfield.
What he needs to do, however, is get a little more clever with his contact. It’s something we saw with Jimmy Smith in Baltimore, a player who Peters reminds me a lot of. When he first arrived in Baltimore, Smith had two seasons where he really struggled and looked to be on the road to first down failure. That was because he didn’t seem to understand how much contact was too much, and was frequently beaten by double moves.
It eventually clicked for Smith, and before his injury last year he was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. That’s the potential that Peters has, but it’s going to take a bit of work, and the team that drafts him will have to be aware that there are likely to be some growing pains in the first couple of seasons of his career. Stick with him, though, and I think he’s the sort of player who could develop into someone quite special.
Peters also reacts well to what’s happening around him, and seems to have good awareness when things break down. Additionally, the Huskies sent him on the blitz a few times, and he showed himself to be very capable of getting pressure on the quarterback and coming up to make tackles against the run. Like many corners, his tackling can be a bit sloppy at times, but some more work here would help him out further. The speed and burst he shows off the edge can be an asset on special teams too, to the point that I wouldn’t be shocked to see him block field goals in his career.
In a draft class where all of the top cornerbacks have question marks that make them a gamble in the first round, Peters is not exempt. What he is, though, is one of the few players at the position who have the potential to develop into a top corner. There are issues that he needs to fix to get there, but if he can take care of them, don’t be surprised to see him become a star in the NFL.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon