Steelers Draft '15: Defensive Backs

Introducing Marcus Peters. It's about time for the Steelers to draft a cornerback in the first round.

The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted 22nd, they drafted a 200-pound cornerback, Ron Johnson, in 1978.

Johnson started Super Bowls in his first two seasons before moving to safety in the middle of his seven-year career.

The last time the Steelers drafted a cornerback in the first round, they drafted 6-1, 205-pound Chad Scott, who played plenty of safety in college at Maryland.

The Steelers have always preferred physical cornerbacks, and there are a couple of them in this draft -- Byron Jones (6-1, 200) and Eric Rowe (6-1, 205) -- who spent the majority of their college careers at safety before moving over to the corner.

However, the most physical cornerback in this draft might be the guy who didn't get the chance to finish his college career at all -- Marcus Peters.

"The best corner I faced this year was Marcus Peters from Washington," one of the top wide receiver prospects, Jaelen Strong, said at the Combine. "He's a great player, great kid. He's a competitor. Brings the best out in me. That's the type of matchup I look forward to."

The Strong-Peters matchup was one of the highlights of this past college football season. In that game, Peters (6-0, 197) showed all of the attributes Strong ascribed to him, except for maybe one -- the great kid part.

That's still up for debate after the Washington coach kicked him Peters off the team less than two weeks later.

The back story on Peters is that he grew up in Oakland, Ca., and played for his father while becoming close with another Oakland native, Marshawn Lynch.

Peters was recruited to Washington by Steve Sarkisian, and during his redshirt season failed a test for marijuana.

Peters started the following season and held the job through 2013, but was suspended for the first quarter of the final game, a bowl game, because he was late turning in a final test. This suspension also carried with it a month ban of off-season workouts.

To that point, it was typical college trouble. But Sarkisian left and in came Chris Peterson and a new coaching staff from Boise State, a school that had to recruit troubled players to compete with the best of the Power Five conferences.

Peterson knew how to keep a tight ship and was intent on laying down the law with his new team and of course Peters.

Problems surfaced when Peters head-butted an opponent in the home opener and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Peters was yanked and threw what he called "a hissy fit" as well as his helmet. So he was suspended for the next game, and then was late for a team meeting and was benched for the first two series of the next game.

Peters was later dismissed after missing practice to attend court for driving with a suspended license. At the Combine (transcript), Peters called that "a miscommunication."

The indiscretions may have revealed an immaturity, but were never as severe as an arrest or a physical altercation with a coach. At least that's the way the Steelers see it. My understanding is they still have him on their draft board, and that they like him.

Of course, if the Steelers see fit to keep this headstrong but talented cornerback on their draft board, so will most of the other teams. And after Trae Waynes, Peters could be the second cornerback drafted.

From there, it's a long list of cornerbacks the Steelers have interviewed, visited and hosted, because drafting a fast and physical cornerback is their No. 1 need.

TOP FIVE

1. Marcus Peters, 6-0, 199, Washington.

2. Kevin Johnson, 6-0, 188, Wake Forest.

3. Trae Waynes, 6-0, 186, Michigan State.

4. Eric Rowe, 6-1, 205, Utah.

5. Senquez Golson, 5-9, 176, Ole Miss.

STEELERS VALUE BOARD

First Round -- Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest; Marcus Peters, Washingotn; Jalen Collins, LSU.

Second Round -- Eric Rowe, Utah; Landon Collins (SS), Alabama; Senquez Golson, Ole Miss; Ron Darby, Florida State; Doran Grant, Ohio State; Quinten Rollins, Miami-Ohio.

Third Round -- Alex Carter, Stanford; Charles Gaines, Louisville; JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas.

Fourth Round -- Bobby McCain, Memphis; Steven Nelson, Oregon State.

Fifth Round -- Bryce Callahan, Rice; Quandre Diggs, Texas; Cody Prewitt (FS), Ole Miss.

Sixth Round -- Kevin White, TCU; Nick Marshall, Auburn.

Seventh Round -- Darryl Roberts, Marshall.


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