Otha Peters - Linebacker - UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
40 Yard Dash (NFL Draft Scout): 4.78
20 Yard Dash: 2.75
10 Yard Dash: 1.67
Bench Reps: 23
Vertical Jump: 31”
Broad Jump: 9’02”
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.26
3-Cone Drill: 7.09
Peters began his career at Arkansas and was a four-star prospect coming out of Covington, Louisiana. After a successful freshman season in Fayetteville (32 tackles), Peters struggled a bit as a sophomore, mainly due to injury. According to Peters, he “had broke [his] radius (forearm) the week before the season started” and decided to continue his career closer to home. Peters felt like he needed new scenery after dealing with “the injury and a lot of coaching changes”. At this time Arkansas was just finishing the Bobby Petrino, John L. Smith, and Bret Bielema coaching shuffle and it was time for a fresh start. Peters would settle on Mark Hudspeth’s program in Lafayette (two hours from his home in Covington) and this is where the real story begins.
Career in Lafayette
After sitting out the 2014 season due to the NCAA transfer rule, Peters would debut for the Cajuns in 2015 and immediately make an impact. Peters said the transfer year was very tough. “I practiced that whole camp and summer expecting to play at Arkansas and then I transferred right before the season started.” At UL-Lafayette, Peters was the number one linebacker for the scout team who ran the opposing defense against the Cajuns’ number one offense each week. Peters believed being on the scout team allowed him to “play middle linebacker and outside linebacker” and that helped him tremendously going into his junior season.
Peters would record 68 tackles in his junior campaign which would be good enough for third on the team as the Cajuns struggled to a 4-8 record, the first season they haven’t been to a bowl game under Hudspeth. Peters started in each game and would earn honorable mention All-Sun Belt. Peters stated this move from the SEC to the Sun Belt was a “very humbling experience”.
The next year is where you would see Peters truly playing to that four-star potential. After receiving some preseason love from the media, Peters would play above those expectations as he and Tre’maine Lightfoot combined for one of the best LB duos in all of college football. Peters recorded 94 stops this past fall in helping lead the Cajuns back to the postseason. Peters was very disruptive as he recorded 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble. Peters was an easy pick for first team All-Sun Belt as he terrorized opposing offenses all year.
In hindsight, Peters stated that you don’t really realize how “spoiled” you have it in a premier conference and he believes this transition made him work harder as a player. According to Peters, “coming from the Sun Belt to get in the NFL is a lot more difficult than coming from the SEC”. Peters mentions exposure and level of competition as reasons why.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Peters believes one of the strengths of his game is his pursuit. Peters is able to “read and react and run sideline to sideline to make plays”. The scheme at UL-Lafayette is designed for the defensive front to keep blockers off the linebackers and for players like Peters at the second level to clean up all the garbage. When looking at his tape, you can see he does an excellent job at this by knowing his assignment and making tackles all over the field.
When talking to coaches and scouts during the draft process, Peters states he’s hearing that he has “elite instincts and can find a way to get to the ball”. Peters believes this shows up on film and his play shows he has a really good feel for the game.
When mentioning weaknesses, Peters mentions “getting off blocks and hand placement”. Peters believes a lot of this will be dependent on scheme. In a 3-4 look, hand placement will be much more vital for a player like Peters because there is not that extra lineman on the line of scrimmage to cover up blockers. It is because of this that Peters feels he is best suited in a 4-3 scheme. “Not having to deal with that extra lineman in my face, I’ll be covered up and it’ll just be me playing my gap” says Peters. Then it’ll just be read and react defense, something Peters has been playing his whole life. Peters believes he can play both inside and outside linebacker, but he is “mainly an inside linebacker.”
Peters has gained 15 pounds since the end of the season to show teams he can be the size of a prototypical mike linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Peters showed this at his pro day, proving he could still run while being much heavier than he was during the season. During the draft process, Peters has worked out for the Saints, had a visit with the Seahawks, and has been in contact with the 49ers, Broncos, Chiefs, and Giants. The interest is obviously there and it’s not hard to see why. Peters has shown excellent sideline-to-sideline athleticism during his college career and with the added weight, this gives him a chance to be an anchor in an NFL 4-3 defense. He has produced at every level during his football career, we’ll see if the trend can continue at the next level.