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Carolina Panthers

CB Peters toting a mixed bag


With his impressive blend of size, speed and football smarts, cornerback Marcus Peters could be a dream come true for an NFL coach.

Then again, he might be a coach's worst nightmare.

Peters, a former University of Washington standout, brings first-round talent to the table but also brings baggage. He wasn't a Huskie at the end of last season, dismissed from the team after reportedly having multiple run-ins with the coaching staff.

Peters has attempted to convince NFL teams during the pre-draft process that he's learned from his mistakes. He took a positive step by mending fences and earning an invitation to Washington's pro day last week.

But only time – and the individual judgements of coaches and general managers around the league – will tell how much, if any, Peters' off-the-field concerns will hurt his draft stock.

"They want to know my character," Peters said when asked how his interactions with NFL teams have gone. "I went through one of the worst things that could happen to me in life. I got kicked off my team and wasn't able to finish out my college career with my teammates, and I own up to that and I man up to that and I just move forward.

"Everyone makes mistakes. All I tell them is that I've matured from the decisions I made in the past.''

The real decision now lies with NFL decision makers, who must carefully weigh what they think of a given prospect as a player but also as a person.  

Peters isn't the only top cornerback prospect to complicate his draft status. Florida State standout P.J. Williams ended his media interview at the NFL Combine in February by saying, "You're not going to have any problems out of me once I get on your team."

Last week, Williams was arrested for driving under the influence.

In the case of both Peters and Williams, NFL teams must determine how much off-the-field concerns will shape their draft board. After careful investigation, some teams will take certain prospects off the board entirely. Some teams will consider a given off-the-field matter of little consequence to their draft board, while some will consider a player with character concerns only if they fall far enough to justify taking the chance.

Between the white lines, there's not nearly as much gray area in the case of Peters. Despite playing in just eight games last season, the 6-foot, 197-pounder paced Washington with three interceptions after racking up a team-best five in 2013.

"I bring a shutdown mentality to the game. I'm a ballhawk," Peters said. "You've got to protect the island. You don't want anything bad to come upon your island, and I protect it dearly."

Peters wasn't able to protect his off-the-field reputation with NFL scouts nearly as well, making him one of the draft's most intriguing prospects.

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