Jabrill Peppers figures to be one of the most polarizing players in the 2017 NFL draft. So where does his scouting report put him?
Weight: 208 lbs
Played multiple positions in high school and helped his team win two state championships before transferring and winning two more. He also set records as a track athlete in the 100-meter dash. Was one of the most highly-coveted athletes in the nation, ranked #2 by ESPN. He verbally committed to Michigan on live television.
- Athleticism and speed jump off the screen right away. Lots of range and tremendous as a kick and punt returner. Can also be utilized on offense as a running back.
- When he gets a bead on the ball he comes downhill hard and with authority. Mix of speed and size allow him to deliver some hard hits and make consistent plays in the backfield.
- Can be used as a solid chess piece around the line of scrimmage. Can fill the running lanes well but also excels as a blitzer. Delivered three sacks in 2016.
This play showcases everything that Peppers does well at the safety position. His body handles the physicality near the line of scrimmage. He shows good awareness to track where the football goes and then showcases that closing speed to drop the quarterback for a game-clinching sack.
- At his best when allowed to play downhill. Absolute missile who can punish in such situations. Agile enough to play man coverage when asked.
- Could be a secret weapon against mobile quarterbacks. Has shown lots of promise as a QB spy, able to track and hunt them down.
- Loads of upside if he can learn to be comfortable and aware in space. Would be best for him to be allowed to focus on just one position.
- Speed hasn’t made up for his lack of instincts and awareness in coverage. Often appears a half second late to impact pass plays. Just one interception in his college career.
- Lacks discipline in getting maintaining his position over the top, which has led to some big plays for opponents through the air.
Having the speed and applying it to the maximum are two different things in football. Even fast guys can get burned in the NFL. This play doesn’t reflect well on Peppers. He allows the receiver to get a clean break through the second, is too late to recognize it and the quarterback has an easy pitch and catch for a touchdown. A play that Peppers could’ve and should’ve prevented had he diagnosed it quicker.
- A classic elite athlete who is good at most positions but has failed to master any. Not a great running back or safety. Best plays have come in the return game.
- Takes awkward angles to the football at times, allowing opposing ball carriers a chance to cut back and get more yardage.
- Bad habit of going for the shoulder hit rather than actually trying to wrap up. Has led to more than a few bad missed tackles.
Pro Comparison: Adrian Wilson
Peppers and Wilson were both elite athletes coming out of college at safety. Still, Wilson had the stigma of being a liability in coverage at N.C. State. He only had three interceptions. Many wondered if he could ever figure that part of the game out. Safe to say he did. He went to five Pro Bowls in his career and snagged 27 interceptions. Peppers may have even more upside. If the light goes on in the coverage department, offenses will learn to fear him.
Projection: Late 1st round
Right now scouts are wary of Peppers. They love his physical prowess to a man but fear his lack of progression as a complete safety. That’s too much of a red flag to consider taking with a top 10 or 15 pick but there will be one team in the late 1st willing to take the risk. He just has way too much upside to let slip too far.