KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs thought they had a pretty good handle on the type of person/player they were getting with their first-round draft choice, cornerback Marcus Peters.
The young man out of Oakland, Calif., arrived at Arrowhead Stadium with plenty of baggage from his tempestuous college career at the University of Washington. Peters showed the Huskies coaching staff a short fuse and was not afraid to challenge coaching commands and decisions. His 2014 college season ended abruptly when he was booted off the team by head coach Chris Petersen.
Kansas City general manager John Dorsey was confident with the vetting process his personnel staff did with Peters, led by Chris Ballard, his player personnel director. Ballard's trip to northern California a few days before draft decision day and that one-on-one time clinched the team's decision to select Peters.
Dorsey was confident the veteran presence on the Chiefs' defense would direct their young teammate away from trouble, players such as safety Eric Berry, veteran linebackers Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson and now-departed cornerback Sean Smith.
Twelve months later, the Chiefs don't have any worries about Peters, not after a rookie season that saw him tie for the league lead with eight interceptions and win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Rather than concerned about his personality and his transition to the NFL, they are now looking at him in the role of a leader in a secondary filled with youngsters.
"I lead by example," said Peters, 23. "I do the right things. I make sure I stay out of trouble off the field. I make sure I handle my business on the field. And, if they have any questions, I'm here to help them; everything that EB (Berry) and Sean gave to me, I can just give it back to them."
Andy Reid says Peters has plenty to give.
"The way he competes, instincts, how he studies, all those things the younger guys can get a feel on (from Peters)," the Chiefs head coach said. "He's got natural leadership qualities. He's not loud -- that's not what he is. He's willing to share with the young guys. He just went through all of this a year ago, so it's fresh on his mind, on what being a rookie is."
As the Chiefs go through their offseason work, they have a young and inexperienced group at cornerback. With his 18 starts in the 2015 regular season and playoffs, Peters has opened more NFL games than any other corner on the roster. The other eight players that are primarily corners on the Chiefs' depth chart have a combined total of 19 starts.
With eight-year veteran Smith gone to the Oakland Raiders in free agency, it was important that the Chiefs find a new leader on the corner.
"I have to step up to be a leader," Peters said. "We lost Sean, so it means for me my job is to step up."
Six of the 10 Kansas City cornerbacks are rookies, including three from the 2016 draft: KeiVarae Russell (third-round choice from Notre Dame), Eric Murray (fourth-rounder out of Minnesota) and D.J. White (sixth-round pick from Georgia Tech.) They join undrafted college free agents Vernon Harris, Tre Jones and Shak Randolph.
With inexperienced third-year man Phillip Gaines getting the first chance to replace Smith at right cornerback, Peters has gone from the young guy to pick on, to the corner who figures to see far fewer passes thrown his way in the 2016 season.
If that is the case, Peters is willing to pay the price.
"It gives the other guys on the other side the chance to make their name to be heard in this league," Peters said. "If the balls don't come my way, ... another guy can hopefully be the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
"Everybody had their questions about the type of player I was on the field. My whole thing last year was just the character issues for me. When I got the call that I was coming here, I wasn't questioning myself of how I can play on the field. I came in with trouble behind my name. We have some guys in our group that just have to go out there and play ball, and that's the main thing I told them.
"I tell them my rookie season was a whole lot different than yours (will be.)"