Why are we enamored with Jabrill Peppers as an NFL prospect?
Jabrill Peppers is a swiss-army knife who is considered ‘versatile’ on the football field, but that doesn’t mean he’s worthy of a first or even a second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
I wrote a full draft profile and scouting report on Peppers that you can read here. That outlines Peppers as a player–what he can do on the field, his strengths, weaknesses and NFL comparison.
Right after the college football season ended I saw mock drafts that had Peppers being selected in the Top 10, which to me is preposterous and here’s why….
Peppers is 6 feet and 210 pounds soaking wet. He is not big enough to handle linebacker duties in the NFL—and that is the position he wants to play. Many think he translates as a safety at the next level, but there is a problem—he lacks any semblance of coverage skills for that position (we’ll get into that later).
Peppers played multiple positions in college, ten to be exact, but how does that translate to the NFL? It doesn’t.
What he did in two seasons of football at U-M was spectacular. He was exciting and electric. He was an invaluable part of the Wolverines’ success. The guy played quarterback and cornerback in the same game.
But here’s the problem: The NFL doesn’t value versatile athletes for one simple reason. Just about every single player in the NFL is a versatile athlete. Every player is fast, strong and smart. Just give them a chance to show what they can do, and they can do it. College players are better served by becoming an expert at one position—and Peppers is not an ‘expert’ at any one position.
3. Despite what many tell you, Peppers is not good in coverage
I don’t know where this rumor started, but somewhere during his college days Peppers was labeled as the type of player who can “lock-down” his man in coverage. Uhhh, not true.
Let’s look at the facts. Peppers lacks instincts and ball skills as outlined in his draft profile. But it goes deeper than that…when Peppers was the primary defender he allowed 58 receptions with ZERO INT’s and only six pass breakups. Quarterback’s completed OVER 70% of their throws against him. Those numbers are downright terrible and worthy of a fringe prospect, certainly not a 1st rounder.
In his entire Wolverine career, Peppers accumulated a whopping one interception and ten total passes defensed. For as much as he was on the field, you would think some semblance of decent stats would fall into his lap…not the case.
4. Why he won’t work as a LB
This is the position where many think Peppers can make an impact—in a “rover” type role that will allow him to move all over the field and be a disruptive force. Think again….
One knock on Peppers is his ability to wrap up the ball carrier. He will come flying out of nowhere to attempt to make a play, but instead of using his arms along with his shoulder pads to wrap up and bring the ball carrier to the ground, Peppers will lower his shoulder with force and attempt to knock him down that way. That will not work in the NFL. Runners are too strong and talented to be knocked down by a shoulder hit from a 200 pound player.
According to scouts, Peppers lacks football instincts and the ability to read/diagnose plays as they are unfolding before him. He survived in college with his sideline-to-sideline speed. He won’t have that luxury at the next level. That is the one quintessential ingredient you need in a linebacker.
5. What the scouts and executives of the NFL say…
“These comparisons to Charles Woodson are nuts. Both are really good return men, but Woody is one of the greatest playmakers of all-time. Peppers has one interception and I don’t think he’s ever forced a fumble. Michigan might move him around too much.”
“He’s a tweener without a set position in the NFL.”
“He’s athletic, so what? I want playmakers that early in the Draft and Peppers ain’t one.”
“There are probably 15-20 better defensive backs in this year’s draft who will have better NFL careers.”
“He’s all hype”
6. Bottom Line
Jabrill Peppers name is the reason why he is high on many fans draft boards, hoping their team will be the lucky one to select the former No.2 overall recruit and No.1 DB from high school. If you actually look at his numbers and what he does on the football field, they are not worthy of a first or even a second round pick in this year’s DEEP NFL Draft.
Sure, he’ll make an impact right away on special teams, but is that worth such a high draft pick? Not in my eyes.
Where do you think Jabrill Peppers should be drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft? Let me know in the comments below…
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