There was a large flap of confusion within the fan base when the Kansas City Chiefs decided University of Washington cornerback Marcus Peters had far too much talent to pass up in the 2015 draft. Thanks to some behind-the-scenes due diligence, and the proper roll of the dice, Peters made an instant impact on KC’s defense.
That faith was backed up with some solid numbers. His 2015 line included eight interceptions (two of them for touchdowns), 26 pass breakups, a fumble recovery and 50 tackles. If the pass breakups seem low, consider most NFL quarterbacks didn’t even bother throwing to his side of the field.
To duplicate what he accomplished a year ago, Peters must avoid the dreaded sophomore slump for several reasons. First, the Chiefs need him to become a steady ball hawking defender once again. Secondly, with the departure of Sean Smith to the Oakland Raiders, Peters is KC’s best shut down corner.
Though he led with his actions on the field a year ago, his presence in the locker room grew as his productivity and play making abilities grew after each game. However, the way he carried himself in the locker room, was as impressive as his play on the field.
“Last year, I came in with me just having to learn to become a leader and learn to become a part of this team. It’s still the same,” Peters said after practice on Wednesday.
This season Peters knows what’s expected, and with a plethora of questions marks at the cornerback position for the Chiefs that need sorting during training camp, KC’s young corner understands expanding that role of leader is critical to paving the way for his fellow defensive teammates.
“I’m talking about me doing my job and making sure I’m staying on point to where I’m not causing the team any harm,” he said. “You know, I got to make sure I’m making my plays on the field. You know, we’ve got to face some good receivers this coming year and just keeping myself prepared. So, my leadership role is, just don’t talk about it – be about it. You just got to go out there and work as hard as you can to make those plays, and the rest will take care of itself. We got a team full of leaders. Like I said, last year it makes my job that much easier if I don’t have to do too much – just play ball.”
That mentality was the primary reason, Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid, dispatched Chris Ballard the week of the draft to sit down with Peters at his west coast home. What he learned was that Peters took responsibility for his actions that ultimately led to his suspension off the Huskies football team and recommended that he was the man to draft in the first round.
Looking ahead to the 2016 season, Peters has every intention of repeating and surpassing his performance from a year ago.
“I have to capitalize on all of my opportunities. Last year I could have ended up the season with more than 8 picks, I dropped a few. It’s about capitalizing on my opportunities and making sure I’m not making those small mistakes that I was making last year. Even if it’s just taking the wrong guess like I took in the playoffs when Tom Brady hit us over the top with a big one. It’s just making sure I guess right and I make my plays,” Peters said.
With safety Eric Berry still not in camp, the responsibility that now falls on Peters to be the defensive leader is enormous. However, coming into his second season, Peters isn’t like other young NFL players who are just hoping to secure another roster spot. Instead, he’s expected to become the driving force of the secondary and a leader in the defensive huddle.
So should Peters surpass his 2015 totals and accomplish a stronger leadership role, the question of a sophomore slump will never arise on or off the field for the Chiefs second year defender.