Marcus Peters was traded last Friday. He has been a top-five corner each year he has played in the NFL. The compensation the Kansas City Chiefs received for him speaks more to his off-field problems than his talent.
An All-Pro corner with two years left on a rookie deal — a corner who is on pace for Hall of Fame numbers — merely fetched a second-round pick and a Day 3 pick? Something is up. We are here to talk about Peters the player, though. That player is special.
The Los Angeles Rams, by all accounts, will likely divorce Trumaine Johnson. Instead of having to break the bank in free agency or invest a first-round pick in a corner, they get Peters for cheap. In Wade Phillips‘ scheme, he has a much more aggressive style of defense compared to the previous regime. Johnson benefited from that. Where Johnson struggled is where Peters will flourish. Johnson isn’t nearly as fluid as Peters.
He would come off as slow because it took him longer to open up and run. That’s not the case for Peters. Also, in zone coverage, Johnson doesn’t have the instincts Peters has. If he didn’t have a true responsibility he seemed to get lost in coverage. Peters is the best corner in the NFL at reading the quarterback from zone. He often would come off his route to jump another. In the playoff game against the Titans he did just that.
Marcus Peters INT, the Titans stink pic.twitter.com/6UVoO0HwpI
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) January 6, 2018
Those are the plays Peters can make — routinely.
Five interceptions. 14 passes defended. Five forced fumbles. The Rams are getting a superstar. People will still point to “Oh, he gives up as many big plays as he creates turnovers.” That’s just not true. Peters has greatly reduced the big plays he has surrendered since his rookie year. When you consider the amount of times he’s being thrown at, it’s remarkable that he produces so much.
His real area for improvement is tackling. Peters loves to go for the strip instead of wrapping up. I wonder if Phillips can coach that out of him, or at least get him to limit those missed tackles. When he made contact, defenders broke 11 tackles this year. That doesn’t even count the times when he didn’t get a hand on the runner. On broken tackles alone, Peters missed 21 percent of his tackles. You’d like that number to be in the low teens.
What Peters hasn’t benefited from is a pass rush. Justin Houston is a Hall of Famer, but he has been battling injuries the last few years. Dee Ford hasn’t lived up to expectations and Tamba Hali is at the end of the road. With Chris Jones being inconsistent, that’s how the Chiefs ended up 26th in adjusted sack rate last year.
The Rams, you ask? They were fifth. They had 17 more sacks than the Chiefs. That Aaron Donald guy is pretty good. Robert Quinn can still play. Heck, any Wade Phillips defense is going to get after the passer. The Rams are loading up on talent and Peters is a perfect complement to what they have up front. If they can bring back Lamarcus Joyner, that’s going to be a strong secondary.
What Peters does is take the pressure off the front office financially — he won’t force the Rams to overpay in free agency. Peters is a great luxury to have on the field. I’ve seen him up close and in person — he ruins offenses. That’s not going to change anytime soon. Peters fits like a glove.
He’ll be in an aggressive defense and will get an opportunity to take more chances with some exotic blitz looks. He’ll get a chance to play off coverage and read the quarterback as well as play press and take receivers away.
I can’t wait to see it. The Rams got a steal if they can lock Peters up for the long run.