The Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need youth and athleticism at the cornerback position heading into the 2015 season. They certainly will be looking to address this need in the 2015 NFL Draft, but while selecting at No. 22, most of the top-tier cornerbacks could be off the board prior to their selection.
As the Steelers rarely trade up, or down, in the draft, one cornerback who could be the answer to their question as well as on the board when they select is disgruntled University of Washington cornerback Marcus Peters. Breaking down Peters' game, he has the tools, but after being dismissed from the program in 2014 brings up big questions regarding his attitude heading into the pro game. Let's see what the experts suggest about this young defensive back.
Height: 6-feet 0-inches
Weight: 197 pounds
Arm Length: 31 1/3 inches
Hands: 8 3/8 inches
40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds
225-pound bench press: 17 reps
Vertical Jump: 37.5 inches
Broad Jump: 121 inches
3-cone drill: 7.08 seconds
STRENGTHS: Prototype size for the position. Fluidity in his hips to flip and run. Competes hard out of press-man coverage and tries to intimidate receivers with his physicality. Can redirect talented receivers with his length and flat-out stuff receivers with marginal foot quickness and strength. Stays in pocket of vertical receivers while turning to locate and track ball. Active and disruptive when ball is in the air. At his best when contesting catches and often comes away the winner on 50/50 throws. Outstanding feel for space with ability to track multiple receivers and quarterback at the same time. Closes on throws with above-average burst and brings some force on contact. Confident and tough.
WEAKNESSES: Suspended for one game in 2014 by head coach Chris Petersen for a sideline tantrum that followed personal foul penalty. Was ultimately dismissed from team over multiple run-ins with coaching staff. Inconsistent with footwork and loose with technique. Lacks patience in press and will open up early. Grabby off line of scrimmage and downfield when beaten. Average mirror-and-match and long speed. Overly emotional and prone to mental mistakes because of it. Slower than expected to squeeze routes in space. Doesn't take coaching.
STRENGTHS: Physicality and athleticism regularly stood out against top competition. Among his best attributes is recognition, as Peters plays the receiver very well, turning back toward the ball as the wideout does and frequently knocking the ball away or intercepting it.
Peters' aggression is just as evident in his tackling. Whether it be against a receiver or coming up in run support, he is a physical hitter who looks to intimidate opponents.
WEAKNESSES: Clearly must answer questions surrounding his dismissal from the Washington football team on Nov. 6 following repeated clashes with the coaching staff. Was ejected from one game early in 2014 and rubbed some the wrong way when he was seen laughing on the sideline toward the end of a blowout loss to Oregon.
Peters is a difficult pick to figure considering his play on the field doesn't align with his behavior and attitude off it. When experts and sources are saying a player isn't coachable, it should be a red flag for any organization thinking of spending a first round pick on this particular player. With that said, Peters has the physical tools to be a solid cornerback, but his emotional baggage is too much to deal with.
For the Steelers to take Peters in the first round, a lot would need to happen in terms of other players being previously selected prior to No. 22. Peters is a risk, and a risk we here at BTSC wouldn't be willing to take; however, Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake knows best, and if he feels he can fit on the team, then who are we to argue.