INDIANAPOLIS – In leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Washington cornerback Marcus Peters was a case study needing extra research.
Peters, arguably the most talented corner in the 2015 Draft, had some character concerns from his collegiate days at Washington after he was kicked off the team the previous fall.
The talent was still there though and the Kansas City Chiefs were more than interested.
During the draft process, Chiefs GM John Dorsey sent his right-hand man, then Director of Football Operations Chris Ballard, to delve deeper into Peters.
Ballard traveled to Oakland, where Peters grew up, for a background check.
At this year's NFL combine, Dorsey explained why he picked Ballard for the assignment two years ago.
"Chris is a good people person," Dorsey said. "I thought it would be important that I had somebody I trusted to go there. He met with the (Peters') family and met with everybody in the surroundings. I knew once he came back and gave me his report I was going to see it through his lens because I know how he thinks. He knows how I think and we see things very alike.
"I knew when he came back and what he told me was going to be accurate and I was good with that."
The Chiefs took Peters 18th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Peters has made two Pro Bowls in two seasons and is easily one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
A year later, the Chiefs made another "risky" selection that turned out quite well.
Tyreek Hill was dismissed from Oklahoma State due to a domestic violence incident in December of 2014.
The dynamic, all-purpose, playmaker played at the University of West Alabama in 2015 before entering the NFL Draft.
It was time for the Chiefs to do more homework.
"We went A to Z on Tyreek Hill," Ballard says of Hill, the 2016 Pro Bowler, who the Chiefs selected in the fifth round of last year's draft. "You can't make a decision like that without the entire organization being on board. From ownership to coaching staff to scouting staff, understand how it's going to affect marketing. Anytime you bring a player in the building, everybody needs to be on board with the player.
"We had a good plan. The plan worked, but now (you've) got to keep working the plan. Just because you keep working the plan and have success initially doesn't mean you are going to have a career. You have to go through and continue to work the plan as you go. You don't ever take your foot off the pedal. The same thing with Tyreek. Tyreek is a good young man. He made a bad, bad mistake. But we gave him a second chance and he took advantage of it. I think going forward he will continue to do good things."
The same method Ballard and Kansas City took to evaluating guys with off-the-field concerns will be used in Indianapolis.
"We are going to research every player," Ballard says. "We are going to go A to Z to see what the problems are and see if it's something we want to manage. That's going to come as an organizational decision from Mr. Irsay and from the rest of our ownership, down to our marketing. How is it going to impact our fans? We have to weigh all of that before we make a decision on a high-risk character guy.
"I tell our scouts this, ignore the noise. Let's make our own opinion of people. That's why they pay us to do what we do. Let's go meet the family. Kids make mistakes. These are young kids still growing up and they make mistakes and we have to figure out, that's our job and our organization's job, to figure out the guys that we are willing to take a chance on."*
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