Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters joined elite company with his 12th career interception in his 19th career game, adding his name to a list including a handful of other defensive players in the NFL over the last six decades.
Andy Reid believes his young corner is a rare talent, and lacks a true comparison to other defensive backs he has coached.
“I think he’s kind of doing it his own way here, trying to put his name on it in his own way,” Reid said. “He works tremendously hard, I think that part probably gets overlooked. He practices hard, he loves playing football. These are all things I appreciate about the kid.”
Since 1960, only five players, including two Hall of Famers, have reached a dozen interceptions in their first two seasons faster than Peters.
Hall of Fame safety Paul Krause ranks as the fastest player to that mark since 1960, recording his 12th interception in the 12th game of his rookie season, according to statistics from the Pro Football Reference database. Krause had 14 interceptions by his 19th career game. He finished his 16-year career with an NFL-record 81 interceptions for Washington and Minnesota.
Tied for the second-fastest to a dozen interceptions are two former American Football League era players, Tommy Morrow and Goose Gonsoulin who each took 15 games to get to 12. Gonsoulin played eight seasons, seven of those with the Denver Broncos. He led the AFL in its inaugural season with 11 interceptions, and finished with 46 career picks.
Morrow was one of the most prolific young ball hawks in football’s modern era. He played just three seasons, all for the Oakland Raiders, picking up 10 interceptions as a rookie safety. He added nine more in his second season, and had 18 career interceptions in his first 18 career games. He holds the NFL record most consecutive games with an interception with eight. He finished with 23 interceptions in only 42 games before a knee injury ended his career.
The fourth-fastest to 12 picks was another Hall of Famer, cornerback Lem Barney. He recorded 10 interceptions as a rookie for Detroit in 1967, then picked off three passes in his 16th career game against Chicago. He totaled 14 picks before his 19th game, and finished his 11-year career with 56 interceptions.
The last player to pickup 12 interceptions faster than Peters was Everson Walls, a Pro Bowl defensive back for 14 seasons, primarily with the Dallas Cowboys. He picked up 11 interceptions as a rookie in 1981 and added a 12th in his 18th game, one faster than Peters. Walls and former Baltimore safety Ed Reed are the only players to lead the NFL in interceptions three times. Walls finished with 57 career picks.
Prior to 1960, game-by-game statistics are more ragged and the NFL game considerably different. Only two players recorded more than 12 interceptions as a rookie, Dick “Night Train” Lane (14) for Los Angeles in 1952 and Dan Sandifer (13) with Washington in 1948.
These are all lofty comparisons for Peters, but Reid believes his young cornerback can play a mix of styles, challenging physical receivers in bump-and-run coverage and making tough tackles.
“On the other hand, he can be that nimble, shifty corner that you see intercepting these balls,” Reid said. “He’s got tremendous ball skills. He could probably come over on the other side and be a heck of a receiver.”