By: Lorenzo Marquez (@iirenzo)
Marcus Peters is one of several recent high profile signings by the @RamsNFL. Sports media feeds the football community with nothing more than interception, PBU and QBR stats when evaluating corners in the NFL. I want to look at Marcus Peters as a corner with a full view of his traits and abilities to illustrate a more complete picture of what makes the Rams’ new Pro-Bowl corner effective, and also what he struggles with. The latter tends to get overlooked in this era with Twitter highlights as a primary mode of sports consumption, and football players rarely fully evaluated post-draft by sports writers and analysts.
Marcus Peters is a fourth year player who reached the Pro-Bowl stage twice, and earned First Team All-Pro honors once. Marcus Peters is primarily a left corner who can move inside to play the slot as well. Peters is a long corner, standing 6 feet tall, with unique ball skills, very good speed and short-area burst.
What he does well:
Peters shows good versatility playing most snaps at left corner but has no issues moving inside or following a wide-out to the right side in Man. Peters has very patient, quick feet at the line of scrimmage. Pairing this with his lateral quickness, Peters can lock up moving East to West and takes his receivers out of the quarterbacks progression working underneath routes.
He has a smooth pedal and has very fluid hips, moving from pedal to sprint with ease. He also covers 9 routes really well with his straight line speed.
He's got all the tools to play Off and defend the sticks. He's very comfortable around 10 yards off and shows great mental processing with his ability to ID the throw, plant and drive to undercut the route or get back quick enough to disrupt passes. Playing 10+ yards off requires good recovery speed, and Peters is among the leagues best in this area. He's patient and waits for the receiver to get to the top of his route before breaking to the ball. This isn't something all corners can do, but Peters has all the tools to sit back and react to the route.
Peters is solid in Zone as well, especially covering a deep a third or quarter, showcasing his speed and ball skills.
Peters’ ball skills are elite. With 19 career interceptions, he's the definition of a ballhawk and has all the tools to keep up this really impressive pace. He can mirror underneath routes with very good shuffling, pedaling speed, and run with deep threats as well as any corner. Couple this with his sure hands, elite anticipation and there is no coincidence Peters has led the league in interceptions by a long shot since he was drafted in 2015.
Peters plays aggressively and it pays off. His cover skills put him in a good position to capitalize on poor throws and his ability to find the ball jumps off the screen. He shows great anticipation with his ability to ID a throw, cut the route and catch the ball. The quality of his interceptions stand out, as he's able to successfully jump routes and catch the ball as well as any corner in the NFL. He manages to find the ball more than anyone else on defense in the NFL.
He’s also a threat once the ball in his hands, showing off his athleticism returning interceptions. He's fast, shows great vision and can make a few people miss.
What he struggles with:
Peters lacks physicality and doesn’t utilize his hands at the line playing Man. He uses his quickness and great feet to cover, but doesn’t show a willingness to jam. In essence, he does not employ a form of Press in his game very often and could be even better because of it. With his length, he could utilize his long arms to give receivers fits getting off the LOS, rerouting them.
Peters is marginal as a run supporter and can be a liability in the open field with very poor tackling fundamentals. This was the most eye opening finding of my film study. He often plays with poor leverage and rarely tackles properly, relying on teammates to clean up the play at times.
More specifically, Peters is unwilling to attack the ball carrier, shorten his stride, and put a shoulder pad on the runner. Peters does wrap up, but that’s because he goes very high and just tries to grab the runner and throw him down. Most defenders have issues because they're headhunting, looking to get a big hit and don't wrap up. Peters seems to be the polar opposite. He trots towards the ball carrier but avoids the contact unless its necessary. Realistically, a lot of corners aren't heavy hitters. But I have not seen an elite corner like Peters with this much of a crutch. He’s really contact shy and can often be seen standing straight up as soon as the ball carrier is close to another defender, rather than engage.
Pictured above: Peters’ inability to attack the ballcarrier, shorten his stride and hit through the mid section. Notice the reaching and grabbing, rather than engagement.
Peters is an elite cover corner in the NFL. While he offers little in run support, his ability to lock up is invaluable in today’s passing league. His size, speed, and athleticism are rare in such combination, and he will be a cornerstone piece for any defense he plays on.
More DB evaluations to come. Comment any you'd like to see.