With the way things have gone in free agency for the Dallas Cowboys– landing defensive end Greg Hardy, re-signing linebacker Rolando McClain, and picking up linebackers Keith Rivers and Jasper Brinkley— it has become more and more obvious that the team will likely go with a cornerback early in the draft.
This is welcome news for many faithful fans. The secondary is the most glaring weakness on a defense that still has several. There are a lot of options for the Cowboys with pick number 27, including picking a top-notch running back or a dominant defensive lineman.
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Earlier this year, I made the case for Dallas to use their first round pick on a cornerback. That post was written long before the Cowboys landed Hardy, whose signing eliminates the need for Dallas to use their first round pick on a defensive end.
The Cowboys are in a great position now to use their first round pick to address an area of need and draft the best available player. I believe cornerback Marcus Peters from the University of Washington is that player.
Peters has some of the biggest upside in the draft. Cornerback Trae Waynes out of Michigan State is far and away the consensus top pick at the position, but for on-field ability, Peters is often cited as the next in line.
At 5’11” and 197 pounds, Peters has great size for a corner. One of the things that impresses scouts the most about him physically is his long arms, which he uses well in press-coverage.
There is perhaps none better in the draft at playing the ball. Peters had 11 interceptions in two and half years for the Huskies, including three interceptions in eight games in 2014, his final season. He is physical with receivers off the snap, is fluid enough in his hips when making turns, tracks the ball well in the air, and goes up and fights to get the ball.
The biggest weaknesses on the field for Peters are his lack of patience when playing in press coverage, looking to jump routes at times, and the fact that he tends to grab the jersey of his opponent when he is getting physical. These are all issues that can be addressed with the right mentors and coaching staff.
However, the biggest issue by far with Peters is off the field. Peters was only able to play in eight games his final season at Washington because he was kicked off the team after several run-ins with the coaching staff.
These concerns might actually be a blessing in disguise for the Dallas Cowboys, a team known to not shy away from troubled athletes. Without these off-field concerns, Peters would likely be drafted earlier in the first round. As it is, some project him to fall to the second round of the draft based solely on the character issue.
The stars are aligned for Dallas to make a bold pick in the first round and capitalize on the hesitation of other teams. Peters could very easily be an instant contributor to a team that is sorely in need of help in the secondary. In fact, it is quite likely Peters could start right away opposite cornerback Orlando Scandrick, depending on what happens with cornerback Brandon Carr in the remainder of the off-season.
The Cowboys are going to have the opportunity to take Peters with the 27th overall pick in the draft. They should pull the trigger and make it happen.
Which cornerback would you like to see the Dallas Cowboys take with the 27th pick? Or would you rather they hold off and take a corner later in the draft? Sound off in the comments below!