Vikings have good reason to visit talented CB

The Vikings are reportedly going to visit with CB Marcus Peters, for good reason. He had his off-field issues, but the in-depth scouting report on him is very tantalizing in every area.

The Minnesota Vikings have often brought in draft prospects for visits to check on their character, and at least a couple of prospects scheduled to visit, according to KSTP, fit that profile.

One of those is cornerback Marcus Peters. Some consider him a first-round talent, but there are risks involved in drafting him if his history at the University of Washington is a measure.

Peters was kicked off the Huskies last year because of run-ins with the coaching staff. In one incident, he reportedly choked a coach, an allegation even other coaches denied, but eventually head coach Chris Peterson dismissed Peters from the team.

Peters was also suspended for one game due to targeting.

Peters is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the draft, and Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has admitted that part of the organization’s big predraft visits, where they can host up to 30 prospects, is designed to see how prospects interact with coaches and other players.

Scout.com has Peters rated lower than most, as the fifth-ranked cornerback and a second-round value. But the scouting report on Peters’ skill set, from NFL lead scout Dave-Te’ Thomas, raves about Peters’ on-field acumen.

He has drawn comparisons to Aqib Talib, but Scout’s analysis offers this warning: “A blue-chip first-round talent who has GMs afraid to use their opening pick on an athlete who definitely has anger management and maturity issues.”

And, still, the deeper statistics are tantalizing.

Peters saw 198 passes targeted into his area since he first stepped onto the field for Washington. Those quarterbacks managed to complete 59 of those attempts, only 29.8 percent. The physical press-coverage defender has either rerouted or jammed receivers on 81 of those 198 passes (40.91 percent) targeted into the Husky’s area and he deflected 26 passes and intercepted 11 others (tied for seventh on Washington’s all-time chart).

In addition to his ability to prevent receivers from getting into their routes cleanly, he has killed numerous potential scoring drives, registering 48 third-down stops and five more on fourth-down snaps vs. the aerial attack, delivering 25 of his 113 career tackles inside the ever-critical red zone, the detailed report says.

He is also highly effective in run support. In 54 running plays directed into his area, he has held those ball carriers to 62 yards (1.15 yards per carry), taking down runners for losses on six of those attempts while preventing his opponent from getting past the line of scrimmage on 11 other ground plays. He has made nine tackles during goal-line stands, posting seven third-down hits and another on a fourth-down snap to keep opponents out of the end zone when running with the ball.

All of this is proof why the Vikings are interested in learning more about Peters, despite the off-the-field issues that some analysts believe are in the past.

Here is the full scouting report on Peters from Thomas:

Playing in eight of the team’s first nine games, he recorded 30 tackles with seven pass break-ups and despite, sitting out the final third of the schedule, he still led the team with three interceptions. Opponents targeted 52 passes into his area in 2014. Peters allowed only four receptions through his first four appearances, but was then torched for 14 catches that included two touchdowns during his final four appearances.

Before his series of on-field meltdowns, the field cornerback had started 20 of 26 games for the Huskies, but many felt that Peters’ “coming out party” would be in 2014. One of the fastest pass defenders in the country, he had 80 passes targeted into his area last season, with 18 of those tosses resulting in receptions (22.5 percent). He delivered 20 pass breakups and eight interceptions as a starter, including five thefts and nine deflections, along with 55 tackles in 2013.

Peters is a short strider with that explosive second gear and burst to close in an instant.

The cornerback has the loose hips to redirect, doing a nice job of planting and driving out of his breaks. He has the valid speed to stay with his assignment on deep patterns and does a nice job of getting his body in the way to prevent catches over the opponent’s outside shoulder.

The former Husky can close in an instant and is very quick to react to the ball in flight, showing natural hands to make the interception or pass deflection. He has the burst needed to accelerate and close on plays at the opposite end of the field and has the second gear to catch up on rare times that he is beaten.

Peters is a very alert player, especially in man coverage, using his press skills to reroute/jam receivers away from 81 of the 198 passes targeted into his area. The thing that you see on game film is the suddenness he displays in distinguishing between run and pass plays. He is so quick to identify his keys and react to the play that receivers barely have time to get out of their stance before he is all over them. He works hard to defend his responsibilities and has excellent vision when it comes to recognizing blocking schemes.

Peters is highly consistent when it comes to maintaining position on the receiver, and he has enough skills to play the trail, cover or cushion. He has the foot speed to run with any receiver stride for stride. He never seems to be out of position, especially when down field, and he has the recovery speed to get back on the play on those rare times when a receiver gets behind him.

He’s one of the best “press men” in college and has the size and strength to jam at the line, along with the turning ability to mirror in the short area or when playing off coverage. He is very good at maintaining leverage on posts and always seems to be quick in transition, especially when covering on a nine-route.

Peters is a former track standout with loose hips and crisp change-of-direction agility. He is never sloppy or takes extra steps in his pedal, even though he has more than enough valid speed to get away with it and recover. He’s a smooth, fluid mover who makes man coverage look easy, as he has the uber-quick motions needed to recover from rare transition glitches. His feet appear well-balanced when retreating and his hips are loose, making him able to turn on the receiver’s hip and mirror heading up field.

Peters is a huge problem for a “lazy” quarterback, as he will never bite on misdirection or play-action. He has that outstanding natural ability to break on the ball, and when it comes to making the interception he’s like a vacuum going after the sphere. He has superb foot quickness and body control to step in front of the receiver. He can transition on a dime and burst to make the play and even vs. the bigger receivers or when working in a crowd, he has no problem tracking the ball in flight.

Peters is well-known for getting great elevation to track the ball while it is in flight (see 2014 Georgia State and 2013 Oregon State and Stanford games). He has no problem challenging the much bigger receivers to get to the pigskin at its highest point. He just has great lift and plenty of courage, as he has gained a lot of success picking the ball off in tight areas.

Peters will never hesitate to come up and support vs. the run. He has very quick hands and uses them well to fend off low blocks and utilizes his upper body strength to take on bigger blockers and shed. He’s a fearless open-field hitter. He is a better run stuffer than most college cornerbacks (has made six stops-for-loss and taken down runners at the line of scrimmage for no gain on 11 other attempts – see 2014 Stanford and 2013 Illinois and UCLA games). He is a valid factor vs. the run, as he always will get involved and leverage, doing so with little-to-no delay.

Peters can be an explosive hitter, as he will consistently square up and “put his hat under the chin” of an opponent. He flashes power as a striker and will not hesitate to take on the big fullback to clog the rush lanes. He’s a solid wrap-up tackler who can hit and he can punish. He makes nice adjustments to break down and fit in the open field and has enough brute strength to explode into an opponent upon contact.

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