And we're off!
I was hoping the Chiefs would pick one of the zillion prospects whose film I'd already taken a look at. Alas, no such luck.
I must confess that when the Texans stole Kevin Johnson right out from underneath the Chiefs, I was upset. I'd broken down some of Johnson's film, and I found him to be a wonderful fit with the type of secondary Bob Sutton has built in Kansas City.
Until the pick was called I'd never reviewed and film of Marcus Peters. Like everyone else I'd heard that he was a very good corner, but was a potential attitude problem. It honestly never occurred to me Andy Reid and John Dorsey would take him.
Now I know better. And now I've watched five games of Marcus Peters in 2014 via Draft Breakdown. One wonderful thing about the film available on Peters? One of those games he was consistently following Jaelen Strong (considered one of the better WR prospects) all over the field. And it's not even my birthday!
We'll talk about Peters vs. Strong near the end. But first let's talk about Peters as a prospect.
Does anyone remember a couple years ago, when I watched a Travis Kelce highlight film and started calling him "Angry Travis" because of the way he blocked like he was mad at the other team? Well, I think we've all figured out that Kelce isn't an angry guy. In fact, he's a pretty chill guy.
Which is good, as we've got a new player who needs that "Angry" moniker badly. Because Marcus Peters plays corner as angry as anyone I've ever seen.
When I watched Johnson's film I was really impressed with how physical he was in the press. Take that level of physicality and put it on some kind of rage-monster steroid and you've got Marcus Peters.
Peters doesn't just alter routes. There are times he outright swallows them whole.
That's Peters at the top of the screen. And the other guy is some fool who thought he was going to be allowed to actually run a route that day (NOPE).
Peters is exceptional at pressing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. Truly exceptional. Not only is he INCREDIBLY aggressive, he demonstrates good hand placement. Multiple times he was able to get in a punch to the chest of a wide receiver that threw them off their route before they could even get started.
And Peters isn't done with you just because you get off the line. Peters ... harasses wide receivers. He's got his hands on them for as long as he's allowed, and often after. Playing against him seems to be a genuinely miserable experience for wide receivers, and they often start to lose their temper by the end of the game (some of that undoubtedly has to do with the amount of jawing Peters seems to do. That could be good or bad. We'll see).
Peters extends that physicality to contested catches as well. Perhaps one of his greatest strengths is a knack for arriving and making contact just as the ball arrives (or just a FRACTION of a second sooner), knocking the ball away or forcing a drop from receivers that are normally sure-handed. Again, it just looks miserable for receivers when they play Peters. Even when they've got him beat he shows up and just pesters the ball out of their hands.
From the moment the ball is snapped until the moment a play is over, a wide receiver going up against Marcus Peters has to deal with someone who is essentially pretending to be their two-year-old kid by climbing all over them. Peters does it in a way that doesn't draw many penalties, as well. He flat-out mugs guys close to the line of scrimmage, but is much more subtle with his hand and body placement as he runs down the field with receivers. There's still contact, but not enough to draw a flag.
But seriously, just PHYSICAL play. So much so that he'll even blow up plays where his receiver isn't getting the ball.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a corner do that before. Just dominate a receiver physically and push him backward into his own teammate. Fun times.
Peters is aggressive with his tackling when he's got a ball carrier in front of him, but doesn't quite throw himself into the fray the way Kevin Johnson does. He definitely plays like a corner, not a safety. Additionally, his technique when wrapping up is average. Not poor, but average. He generally gets the guy to the ground, but gives up a few yards doing so. It's an area he should work on, as there's no good reason a player as physical as he is doesn't provide elite run support from the corner spot.
Peters ran a pretty "meh" 40 yard dash and wasn't overly impressive at the Combine in general. Watch his Combine performance here. He plays faster on the field than his 40 time would indicate, and not once in five games did I see him just get out run down the field. He turns his hips and starts down the field very well, staying in the pocket of receivers and guiding them toward the sideline. Again, he's a pain to play.
I'm a little more worried about his ability to mirror routes. Peters isn't the most fluid corner I've watched, and he tends to move more in "bursts" than in one smooth cut. This results in him getting shaken by smaller, quicker cuts at times when he's playing off man coverage. The issue didn't pop up much simply because Peters was so often in press man and didn't give receivers enough room for cuts. But the issue is there, and I wouldn't be comfortable with Peters playing much off man coverage.
Another thing Peters has in common with Kevin Johnson is his team liked to use him to blitz. Peters is (not shockingly) a willing and capable blitzer, very aggressively rushing the backfield. He closes quickly and generally wreaks havoc when called upon to blitz.
I love having corners who can blitz effectively, as it's just one more thing offensive coordinators have to think about when game planning.
Peters shows solid awareness and understanding of the game. He keeps his eyes on quarterbacks and other wide receivers while in coverage, and despite watching the quarterback, I didn't catch him biting on fakes. Peters loves to hang back and create the appearance of an open receiver, only to contest the catch and force an incompletion when the throw is made. I'm not sure if that's a good strategy in the pros, but you can see the wheels turning in his head as he tries to out-think opposing quarterbacks.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Peters and Johnson is that Peters doesn't make mistakes due to his aggression as often. Johnson would bite on fakes and would sometimes lunge when attempting to press, only to get beat by a wide receiver stutter that left him off balance. When receivers attempted to stutter step on Peters he reacted perfectly; just sit back and watch. Then Peters would jam them once they made their move. Fun to watch.
The ability to not bite on stutters and other fakes while pressing is a HUGE bonus with a guy who plays as aggressive as Peters. That, combined with what seems to be a good awareness of zone coverage and play calls (like Johnson, Peters sniffs out screens and gadget plays quickly), make Peters look like a cerebral player hiding it behind a wall of rage.
His ability to contest passes is probably unmatched throughout the draft. Peters, as stated, has an uncanny ability to make simply catching the ball a horrible experience for receivers. If he lets the ball get there at all, that is.
Notice there aren't many wasted steps here. Peters sees the play developing, closes quickly, and arrives at the perfect time to swat the ball away. It's a classic look at what Peters did time and again contesting passes.
Peters had a really, really fun battle against Jaelen Strong, following him around the field most of the day. In the second quarter Strong made a really nice contested TD pass against Peters, and got up letting Peters know about it (just a note; Peters was in off man coverage that play, a slant. Not his strength).
Peters responded really, really well, giving up only one catch to Strong the remainder of the day (a play in which Peters slipped when planting his foot to come back to the ball). Most of the times they were matched up Peters didn't allow Strong any room, particularly when in press coverage.
Aggressive press, disrupts the route, and keeps his eyes on the quarterback to see when the ball is in the air. Strong never has a chance on this play.
Look, Peters is not a perfect corner prospect. If he were he would've gone higher in the draft. I have concerns about his ability to stick with receivers through complex, quick routes when he's not pressing. His mirroring ability in off man is not as good as I'd like, and is quickness is in question to me.
Additionally, Peters always seems to be straddling the line between aggressive and stupid. It's one thing to jaw with opposing wide receivers. It's quite another thing to seem to be yelling at a teammate over a missed assignment (only happened twice that I saw, but I only watched five games). Peters's teammates seemed to like him (if you can tell such things based on film study), but there's a fine line to be had when you're playing with that kind of emotion.
On one hand, Peters's emotion is a major strength. He openly seeks to intimidate wide receivers, and some shrink from the challenge and are thrown completely out of their game (both literally and figuratively, depending on the play). But he needs to keep it under control. I imagine that emotion is what cause him to clash with his college coaches. Right now he's saying all the right things, but we'll see what he thinks when he's not the automatic starter (tough to see him beating out Sean Smith or Phillip Gaines if both are healthy).
All that said, the Chiefs addressed a position of need with arguably the best player at that position, and that player fits very will into what the Chiefs defense does (hit you in the mouth). Peters should help that secondary make wide receivers miserable while the pass rush makes quarterbacks miserable.
Welcome to Kansas City, Marcus. Stay angry, and here's to you swallowing up many slant routes over the next few years.