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Marcus Peters Is Elite 2015 NFL Draft Prospect Despite Off-Field Concerns

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 16, 2014

Washington defensive back Marcus Peters warms up before facing Colorado in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Former Washington star cornerback Marcus Peters has opted not to resume his collegiate career elsewhere, instead declaring for the 2015 NFL draft on Tuesday.

Yahoo Sports' Rand Getlin reported the news of Peters' decision to take his talents to the pros:

Rand Getlin @RandGetlin

#Washington DB Marcus Peters will enter the 2015 NFL Draft, per multiple sources familiar with his situation.

Peters was dismissed from the Huskies program for reportedly clashing with Washington's coaching staff multiple times.

Whether the maligned defensive back can overcome those apparent problems with authority to still be drafted on Day 1 remains to be seen. As long as he lands in the proper situation with a stable organization, though, Peters stands to thrive as a pro.

Bleacher Report draft expert Matt Miller supplied some inside information to diminish potential concerns upon Peters' dismissal from Washington:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

From an area scout last week: "(Chris) Petersen just doesn't like Marcus Peters. He'll be fine in the pros." http://t.co/pbIvFDdIW0

To highlight the other side of the spectrum, DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline had heard quite the opposite assessment of Peters in a Dec. 1 report.

"The flow of information on Marcus Peters has gone from bad to worse," wrote Pauline. "The issues which led to his dismissal from the Washington football program are well documented but several area scouts say it’s just the tip of the iceberg."

Another incident prior to Peters being kicked off the Huskies paints an ominous picture.

"He tried to strangle a coach on the sidelines," one scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Then they let him back on the team and he did it all over again. Try selling that to your head coach."

One encouraging sign came from this report by Scout.com's Chris Fetters:

Chris Fetters @Chris_Fetters

Chris Petersen met with Marcus Peters a couple days after his dismissal to clear the air, and all parties have made peace with it. #UW

At least the bridge wasn't totally burned between Peters and the Huskies staff, so his former head coach, Chris Petersen, doesn't appear liable to grill his ex-player to prospective professional suitors.

Opinions will continue to differ on Peters, and he should be one of the most polarizing prospects leading up to the draft. In any event, presuming Peters has a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine and can impress at least one team in interviews, he figures to be a first-round pick.

In addition to the three NFC teams discussed in the video above, two clubs from the AFC North that should be in the mid-to-late range in the opening round could use help at cornerback.

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Defensive back Marcus Peters #21 of the Washington Huskies looks on prior to the game against the Eastern Washington Eagles on September 6, 2014 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have decimated or aging secondaries. Both also have the organizational infrastructure in place and Super Bowl-winning head coaches to get through to Peters.

And with how pass-happy the NFL has become, cornerbacks are as precious of a commodity as ever, particularly potential lockdown studs like Peters. That will inflate his draft stock as is, along with the fact that he managed three interceptions in eight games this season despite not being targeted too often.

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com compares Peters to Denver Broncos Pro Bowler Aqib Talib, citing similarities between their physical, press-heavy brand of coverage, hard-hitting in run support and off-field issues coming out of college.

Talib's caliber of talent is indeed the type of ability Peters has, provided he can harness it properly. If Peters falls a bit further than anticipated in Round 1, he could very well wind up with a quality, playoff-caliber team and become a big steal.

Peters is a risk-reward type of prospect with tremendous upside and the raw skills and swagger to thrive at the NFL level. It will just take the right coaching style to help Peters reach his ceiling.

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