Easily one of the most talked about prospects in this year’s NFL Draft is Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. There’s an awful lot to like about Peppers but is he a guy the Steelers should be looking at for their first round selection.
Jabrill Peppers, LB/DB, Michigan
5’11” 215 pounds
Key Combine Stats: 4.46 forty, 35.5″ vertical, 128″ broad jump
2016 Stats: 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 INT… Rushed 27 times for 167 yards and 3 TDs… 21 PR 310 yards 1TD/10 KR for 260 yards
What’s to Like: Peppers has incredible speed… Very good burst which gets him A to B in a shot… Not at all afraid to be physical and lay the lumber… Shoots gaps extremely well… Very good blitzer who relies on timing combined with this speed… As a punt/kick returner, he gets up to speed quickly and gets up field with little hesitation… Can break tackles with leg drive and has distinct ability to escape… Often flipped field position and changed dynamic of the game.
What’s Concerning: Lowers head way too often on contact… Does not read plays as quickly as you need a safety to do so… Lack of play diagnosis often leads to getting caught with receiver behind him… Not a ‘ball-hawking’ safety at all… Needs to be careful about over-running plays… Does not always wrap up ball carrier; prefers big hit usually with shoulder… Size absolutely engulfs him around the line of scrimmage… Has to do a better job of fighting to get off blocks.
The Verdict: The major question for Peppers is where will he play? The major question as it pertains to the Steelers is do you really need him at 30? I say “no.” Peppers is a jack of all trades but a master of none in my opinion. His speed is excellent and he has very good strength. The problem is that he has issues in coverage. I don’t buy that he’s a lock to cover the slot in the NFL either. He often gets behind receivers too quickly and relies on his speed too often to catch up. NFL quarterbacks will make him pay. I do not view him as a free safety because he bites too hard on play-action and lets receivers get past him too soon. As a linebacker, he’s too light so some type of hybrid safety is the most likely destination.
As an offensive weapon, Peppers is a capable runner out of the backfield. His speed is his biggest asset and he may actually be productive in short yardage situations. I’ll be surprised if teams use him much if at all here though in the NFL. I view him as a bigger threat on defense and as a return man.
Put me down as “stunned” if he were taken by the Steelers with the 30th pick. He just isn’t what they need at this point in the draft.
Photo courtesy: the Sporting News
Video courtesy: Draftbreakdown.com/youtube.com