Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington defensive back Marcus Peters speaks to the media at the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps no draft eligible candidate this season comes with more baggage (aside from Dorial Green-Beckham) than Washington cornerback Marcus Peters. And while the Baltimore Ravens have clearly stated that they want to “clean up” the team, they have also admitted that they won’t necessarily shy away from any player in this year’s draft either.
Marcus Peters was not a happy camper at Washington last year, clashing with his new coaching regime early and often and eventually getting kicked off the team altogether. He did make up with head coach Chris Petersen, however, and was even invited to UW’s pro-day.
The Ravens have already had Peters in the building to get a better feel for him. As I lack similar access, I watched his interview with Dan Hellie and Solomon Wilcots, and the takeaway message was clear: he wants to dominate at the NFL level.
Looking at his game film, Peters clearly enjoys man-to-man coverage far more than zone and is deadly on the corner blitz. He fights off blocks better than most, but tends to be grabby in coverage. Peters essentially tied matchups with Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong, and exhibited solid if unspectacular play against Oregon.
Peters showed off his closing burst against Colorado, and displayed sportsmanship against Hawaii. He acted like a child with a temper tantrum against Eastern Washington. He did not, however, demonstrate dominance in any game until I turned on the Georgia State film.
Peters first interception against GSU was off an errant throw. The second was a one hander in the endzone, questionably called back as pass interference. The third would leave an NFL wide receiver jealous, as Peters dragged his toes along the sideline on third down. He was, in that game, dominant for a coaching staff he did not love.
How then did Peters play for the coaches he did love? And how did he play against an NFL caliber wide receiver? To find out, I watched his 2013 Oregon State game against 2014’s 20th overall draft pick by the Saints, Brandin Cooks.
Peters finished that game with seven tackles, three pass deflections, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown allowed on fifteen passes, for an opposing NFL quarterback rating of 44.44. After spending most of the day matched up against a future first round draft pick. The NFL comparison? He looks like a brash talking Jimmy Smith.
Oct 5, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The same Jimmy Smith, who came out of college with similar character concerns, that just signed a huge four year contract extension with the Ravens. At his press conference following the signing of said contract, Smith spoke telling words:
"“They drafted me. They trusted me. Coming out of the draft, you guys read it, it made me feel some type of way. But for this organization to stand behind me through everything that has happened even up to this point, it means a lot. They have my back, so I’m staying here.”"
Years down the road, I can see Marcus Peters saying similar words. I have complete faith in John Harbaugh’s ability to get passionate players like Peters to buy into the program, and in the Ravens locker room to inspire greatness. Jimmy Smith would be a natural mentor.
Peters is also extremely durable, having never missed a game in college, and the Ravens would love that type of consistency in their cornerback room. For all these reasons, and because he just plays like a Raven, I believe they will run to the podium if Peters drops to the No. 26 pick Thursday night.
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