Say this for the John Dorsey-Andy Reid regime of the Chiefs:
The general manager and coach aren’t going to let winning a news conference or appeasing skeptics or any other vestige of what might be termed political correctness sway what they think they should do with their first-round NFL draft picks.
Nor should they if they’ve done their due diligence the way their history suggests they have.
A year after they plucked Auburn’s Dee Ford in the first round to a collective “huh?” as they opted to bolster the future instead of reach for immediate impact, on Thursday they used the 18th pick overall to take Washington cornerback Marcus Peters … to an instant reaction of “wow, that’s a bit of a shocker” on the NFL Network.
Not because Peters isn’t expected to be able to provide a jolt right away. As Dorsey put it, “one very famous defensive coordinator” texted him after the pick to tell him Peters was the best defensive back in the draft in the last four years.
“Not only is it an important position from a defensive standpoint, but we also don’t have a lot of numbers there,” Reid said. “So you take that also into consideration.”
But the Chiefs also had to take into consideration the reason the pick was going to be complicated:
Because Peters became a source of controversy last season when first-year Washington coach Chris Petersen kicked him off the team after a series of behavioral issues, including head-butting an opponent, a sideline tantrum and, finally, arguing with an assistant coach.
He also failed a drug test for smoking marijuana in 2011, his redshirt freshman season.
And who knows what else, for that matter?
“It's never one thing. We're not going to dismiss a guy because it's one thing," Petersen said, according to the Seattle Times. "That’s not what we're in this business (to be) about. But when you feel like it just can't work, you gotta do what you've gotta do.”
So Petersen did what he had to do, which didn’t prevent Dorsey and Reid from doing what they believed they had to: picking the player many draftniks believed was among the best handful of cornerbacks in the draft …
But vetting him carefully first.
Dorsey said the Chiefs very methodically checked out Peters, speaking to 15-20 people about him and what makes him tick, as Dorsey put it.
“He’s not a malicious kid whatsoever,” Dorsey said.
Into their third year of team-building, Reid and Dorsey have a strong record on conduct of players.
Even so, Reid was so conscious of the implications of this pick that he broached the matter before he even was asked about it, referring in his opening remarks to team representatives visiting his family recently and having Peters in for a visit.
“We feel comfortable having him here,” offered Reid, who noted his friendship with Petersen.
To what degree a Chiefs fan feels the same way largely comes down to how much they trust Dorsey and Reid to have a true bead on all this. They’ve earned some benefit of the doubt, and it was hard not to nod along some as Reid spoke Thursday.
“We all make mistakes at times of our life,” Reid said. “Marcus realized that. We feel comfortable he realized that. It was an emotional situation and he didn’t handle it the right way.”
Whether the Chiefs have handled this the right way by picking him remains to be seen, but Reid offered several premises for why he went awry, why they have faith he has learned from his mistakes and why they believe that his emotions can be harnessed more constructively.
For starters, Dorsey suggested that a key issue at Washington might have been Peters’ struggles to transition from the regime that recruited him to the new one.
“Sometimes,” he said, “it doesn’t always mesh properly.”
To determine if he would be a good fit here, they spent time probing him at the NFL Combine — and about ever since.
Reid is convinced he will be entering “a very strong locker room here” that will help nurture him. In that scene, Dorsey said, veterans say, “Here’s where the bar is set.”
Reid also was impressed that Peters was up front with the Chiefs about his temper issues.
“He said, ‘I goofed,’ ” Reid said. “That’s half the battle.”
As Dorsey and Reid continue rebuilding the franchise from the rubble they inherited, as they continue working the Rubik’s cube of balancing present needs with seeding for the future, it remains too early to know how effective their drafts have been or will be.
But their reputations preceded them here, their product on the field overall has been better than could have been asked in the time-frame they’ve been here and they’ve done nothing yet to say they aren’t credible in how they’re going about it.
How much they continue to hold that trust, of course, will depend both on how the product stabilizes and improves … and how gambits like this play out.