INDIANAPOLIS — Marcus Peters arrived at the NFL scouting combine as a man without a football team, a job-hunting mode different from the majority of the invited draft prospects.
Although Peters is a gifted junior cornerback regarded as a likely first-round pick, his draft stock has been complicated by his actions.
Peters was kicked off the University of Washington team in November after a series of confrontations with a new coaching staff. The final straw was an argument with an assistant coach. Peters previously had argued with coaches and then missed a practice.
In a September game against Eastern Washington, Peters was benched by coach Chris Petersen after he head-butted a wide receiver and drew a personal foul. He then threw his helmet and gloves on the sideline as coaches tried to calm him down and was suspended for a game.
"Everybody wants to know the character," Peters said. "Am I a hot head? Which is false. I've made some immature decisions. I'll learn from it and grow as a man."
Now, Peters is trying to convince NFL teams that he can harness his emotions and is worth the risk. The scouting combine wraps up Monday with Peters and his fellow defensive backs working out.
The Ravens had a busy week that included meetings with several top players like Missouri defensive end Shane Ray, Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.
Peters is among a group of several defensive backs with whom the Ravens met during the combine, including Miami (Ohio)'s Quentin Rollins, Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson (River Hill), Utah's Eric Rowe and Florida State's P.J. Williams. While the Ravens performed their due diligence at every position, defensive back, wide receiver, and running back were of particular interest to them during the past five days here.
Peters' background of misconduct will warrant further investigation from teams. The Ravens could use a cornerback after a season in which injuries to Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and several reserves impacted the defense throughout the year.
When the Ravens drafted Smith in the first round out of Colorado in 2011, they had to do a lot of homework before feeling comfortable that his off-field problems were behind him. In college, Smith had an aggravated assault case, underage drinking citations and acknowledged to NFL teams that he had failed drug tests.
With the exception of a misdemeanor disorderly conduct arrest stemming from an incident at The Greene Turtle in Towson last summer with the case later dismissed, Smith has behaved well and established himself as the Ravens' top defensive back.
Peters' lengthy history of issues is something NFL teams will look into thoroughly. He failed a drug test for marijuana in 2011, was suspended for the first quarter of the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl for violating team rules and was suspended for two series against Stanford last season for being late to meetings.
Peters denied a report that he once choked a coach in practice, which Washington also has denied. Peters also said he missed practice before being kicked off the team because he was in court for a ticket for driving with a suspended license and said his coach was aware of his court date.
It was a rocky transition from Steve Sarkisian to Petersen last year for Peters, a 6-foot, 198-pound Oakland, Calif., native who led the Huskies with three intereptions and 10 passes defended last season. Peters was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection after the 2013 season, when he led his team with five interceptions.
"Just miscommunication," he said of being booted off the team. "Mostly on my behalf."
Peters met with Petersen to clear the air and repair their relationship. Apparently, it worked because Petersen is allowing Peters to participate in the Huskies' Pro Day on April 2.
"We sat down and we talked about everything that happened," Peters said. "I sincerely apologized to him again for what I put him and the team through this year."
Peters said he has matured since being forced to account for his actions along with becoming the father of a son, Carson.
"Bringing a child into this world has really humbled me a lot because now I have to provide for someone other than myself,'' Peters said. "I have someone that's looking up to me a lot, so I have to be 100 percent mature.''
When asked if he had undergone counseling or anger management, Peters said he hadn't any formal assistance to address his behavior. Peters is close to Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, a fellow Oakland native.
"We keep things personal," Peters said about his relationship with Lynch. "That's someone who has mentored me throughout my whole life. I look up to him a lot. He's a great Oakland citizen.
"I've known him my whole life. I grew up watching him play Pop Warner football. I've watched him through high school, and I've watched him through college."
Peters acknowledged that he was far too cocky in the past, saying he has been humbled by what happened last season between him and his former coaches.
"I've lived and learned from it," Peters said. "There's going to be some things that don't go right. But I went through one of the worst things that can happen to me in life: I got kicked off my team, I wasn't able to finish off my college career with my teammates. And I own up to that, man up to that and move forward."
Shelton said he has noticed positive changes from Peters, with whom he has been preparing for the draft.
"Marcus Peters is probably the most dominating defensive back we've had in a while, since [Atlanta Falcons cornerback] Desmond Trufant," Shelton said. "His issues, he's had his own problems, we've all had our own problems. He's definitely working on it. He seems like a completely different guy."
Peters, who is widely rated as the second cornerback behind Michigan State All-American Trae Waynes, has exceptional cover skills and a bold attitude that has served him well in protecting his territory.
"It's the island," Peters said. "You have to protect your island. You don't want anything bad to come up on your island, and I protect it dearly."
Peters made no promises that he wouldn't have problems again, but he did say that he has learned from what happened and is determined to control himself and not be a disruptive force once he's in the NFL.
"I don't guarantee anything," Peters said. "Everyone makes mistakes. All I tell them is I've matured from the decisions I've made in the past and I'm moving forward. I made some immature decisions at the University of Washington, and it hurt me truly. So I've just got to learn from my mistakes and I grow from it."
Despite his transgressions at Washington, Peters said he was always confident that he would get another shot at the NFL.
"I never figured I lost my chance," he said. "There are a lot of people that make mistakes, and I am blessed to have a second chance with me being able to be at the combine. And I go in these interviews, and I go in and accept full responsibility for what happened, and I just take full ownership of it."