During the pre-draft process, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey and Andy Reid huddled together in a room to watch tape of Washington cornerback Marcus Peters.
Reid knew the Chiefs had a need for another cornerback, and while Peters had his share of off-field concerns in college — he was dismissed from the Huskies in November after several clashes with the coaching staff — they were absolutely going to do their due diligence on a player that they ultimately concluded had top-10 talent.
“You have a couple years of (tape on him) that you can watch and we watched all of it,” Reid said. “Dorsey locked me into that room, so I saw it all.”
What Reid saw, he said, was a physical, aggressive press-man corner whose competitiveness was obvious. He jawed at receivers, loved to put his hands on them and flashed ball skills, too.
And on Thursday, the Chiefs took a chance on the 6-foot, 197-pound Oakland native, using the 18th overall pick in the first round to fill a need on a player they felt had massive upside.
“I think he has probably got the best ball skills of any defensive back in this draft, I think he is very physical in run support, I think he's got an incredible feel for the game of football,” Dorsey said following the selection.
“As one very famous defensive coordinator told me, he's the best defensive back in the last four years. He just sent me that text.”
On-the-field, Peters should be a perfect fit. The Chiefs like to put their corners on an island, and Peters genuinely seems to relish one-on-one challenges vs. receivers.
“That's been embedded in me since I was a youth, and that's just how I was raised to play this game,” Peters said. “You're out there playing against another man, who is basically now trying to take your place and try to make your team lose a game, and I'm not having that. I'm going to do whatever it takes to protect my island and protect my team, first and foremost.”
Peters, 22, was a three-year starter at Washington who had 30 tackles (four for loss), three interceptions, seven pass breakups and 10 pass deflections in eight games in 2014 before his dismissal, which the Chiefs insist they have thoroughly investigated.
“We feel comfortable bringing Marcus in here,” Reid said. “We all make mistakes in our life. Marcus realizes that, and we all feel comfortable that Marcus realizes that. It was an emotional situation and he didn't handle it the right way. I think he's learned from it.”
On Sept. 6, Peters was flagged during a game against Eastern Washington for head-butting an opposing player. He was shown throwing a temper tantrum on the sideline shortly afterward are arguing with members of the coaching staff.
Peters was suspended for the next game against Illinois and was benched for two series against Stanford on Sept. 27 for being late to team meetings. He eventually dismissed from the Huskies on Nov. 6 for what Washington coach Chris Petersen essentially called multiple incidents.
Peters, to his credit, owned up to his mistakes at the combine, calling the reason for his dismissal a disagreement with the coaching staff at Washington. He repeated that notion during a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
“I had a coaching change up there at U-Dub (University of Washington) that caused me to act out of character,” Peters said. “I didn't handle the coaching change very well and I take sole responsibility on that because it was on me to make that situation better for me and my teammates.”
Peters, who is the father of a 6-year-old son, Carson, said the two months he spent away from football helped him crystallize the fact that he needed to make some change.
“It's huge to have that taken away from me at a critical time with me having and a son ... it was just crushing,” Peters said. “I grew as a man and as a football player and I know it's not about just me. My actions bounce back on the team and the organization.”
Reid said he spoke to both of Peters' head coaches in college — Chris Petersen in Washington and Steve Sarkisian, now at USC, and is friendly with both — and added that the club vetted him thoroughly before the selection.
“This isn't a malicious kid by any means at all — he's highly competitive,” Reid said. “We think we have it narrowed down to highly competitive and he just needs to learn to control that. That's what it is and if you look at my track record and Dorsey's track record, we aren't normally going to bring somebody in that's a bad person.”
The Chiefs interviewed Peters at the combine — where he spoke to the Chiefs' position coaches, Dorsey said — and Peters visited their facility during the pre-draft process.
Also Chris Ballard, the Chiefs' director of pro personnel, visited Peters at his Oakland home earlier this week and spent the day with him.
“I owned up to everything, like I did to every team, and just told them that 'If you take me, I am going to give you my all,'” Peters said. “I am here to learn, I am here to take criticism from Coach Andy Reid, criticism from Coach Al (Harris), and I am just here to get better.”
Dorsey said Ballard, obviously, believed Peters, and came away from the visit with a better sense of what made him tick.
“He's a family guy,” Dorsey said. “When you watch him around his family, it's a very loving thing. He has a baby girl now. To watch him interact with his family, his siblings, his community, he's very proud, a proud person.”
In all, Dorsey said they spoke to 15-20 people who know Peters to get a clearer picture of who he is.
“You guys have known me long enough — if I (thought) he wouldn't fit into the culture and environment of this community or organization, he wouldn't be here,” Dorsey said.
Peters' father is a football coach, Reid added, and noted that he believes he is willing to accept to tough coaching when it comes from a well-meaning place.
“What you do is you shoot him straight — I think that's an important thing, that you're honest with this kid,” Reid said. “I think that's where he's the best. His dad was a coach; his dad was a tough coach. And he appreciates the honesty of shooting him straight.”
Reid noted that he has dealt with players with baggage before and kept them on the straight-and-narrow.
“I've had a little bit of success with that,” Reid said. “DeSean Jackson fell in the draft and turned out to be pretty good … but everybody is different, everybody was their own little thing.”
In Peters' case, that seems to be his emotion. But Dorsey is confident Peters will have plenty of support around him as he gets accustomed to becoming a professional.
“We have some strength within this locker room, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Dorsey said. “That's what good teams do — they take those veteran leaders and they tell the young guys, 'Okay guys, here's where the bar is set, come reach with us.'
“And then you have a Hall of Famer, you have an all-pro as your teachers. And then you have (defensive coordinator) Bob Sutton, and on top of that, you have a leader like Andy Reid, who is no-nonsense, very matter-of-fact. (It's) no problem at all.
“At the end of the day, when we walked away from this,” Dorsey said, “we had no reservations.”