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NFL Draft 2015: On-field talent spars with sideline volatility with Marcus Peters

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

On a team that has one surefire first-round draft pick, and potentially two more Day One selections, the player with the most talent of the group may not even be selected in that first round.

Or Marcus Peters could be selected in within the first 10 choices.

Every year there is are players who drop due to "character flaws." Every year there are players who are highly selected because their talent outweighs their character. Several NFL superstars have been on the receiving end of these criticisms. Dez Bryant fell to the final ten selections of the first round despite undeniably being a top 10 talent in his draft class. Former Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso fell out of the first round of the draft due to his repeated run-ins with law enforcement.

Peters doesn't have the legal issues that Alonso did, but his clashes with the coaching staff and antics caused him to be suspended, then later kicked off the football team completely. Through all of that, he still has a chance to go in the top half of the first round. Peters has dedicated himself to putting his public image back together through the media, claiming to have matured since his dismissal from the Washington football team.

Even if he is selected in the first round, we won't know whether it is because he was successful in rebuilding the perception of him, or if his talent won out - because the talent is there for anybody to see it.

Performance notes - All-Pac-12 Second Team in 2013 as a sophomore. In 2013 and 2014 he allowed only 38.1 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed. Also in 2013 and 2014 he tallied eight interceptions and 24 passes defended. He was suspended one game in 2014 following sideline tantrum that included throwing his helmet on the turf. Eventually dismissed from team.

Strengths - There are plenty. Peters is strong and physical. It shows up in run support, it shows up in tackling and not allowing receivers yards after the catch and most importantly it shows up in jams at the line of scrimmage. He will redirect or sometimes even stonewall receivers with ease. His strength and tenacity allow him to compete with bigger receivers and even outmuscle pass catchers when the ball arrives.

His physicality feeds his aggression. He is not afraid to battle a receiver for the ball, and when he does, oftentimes he will end up on the winning end of the battle with the football in his grasp. His interceptions didn't always come by way of out-physicalling his opponents. He made acrobatic plays and timed routes to make his share of "easy" interceptions as well.

Peters' coverage ability is at its best when he is able to jam at the line. From there, he has the trailing speed to prevent most receivers from beating him over the top, as well as the ability to change direction with route runners.

Weaknesses: As mentioned, Peters has had his share of issues on the sideline, with his fiery nature getting the best of him and turning to outbursts that are not acceptable on the field. The only major on-field weakness Peters really possesses is when he is forced to play off coverage. He can struggle when unable to redirect receivers, not having elite short-area quickness like former UW cornerback and first round pick Desmond Trufant. Peters can be caught jumping routes and will be beat with a double move from time to time. Sometimes, the aggressive nature that allows for his interceptions and forced fumbles can manifest itself in mistakes, and that is the most evident.

Bottom line: Drafting Peters is a gamble, off the field. On the field, he is what many consider (including Hank Jones) the top cornerback in the draft in terms of pure talent.

Fit: Big, strong, physical. That is the new cornerback in the NFL. A team that drafts him is going to be a team that wants him to use his abilities at the line of scrimmage. A team that drafts Peters and schemes him in a way that he is forced to play off of the receivers will waste an elite talent.

Projection: Late first/early second round

Combine results (from NFL.com)

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