Position: Safety/Outside Linebacker
Weight: 207 pounds
School: Michigan Wolverines
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.46 seconds (best among linebackers)
Bench press: 19 reps
Vertical jump: 35.5 inches (fourth among linebackers)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 8 inches (tied for best among linebackers)
Jabrill Peppers 2017 NFL Draft Profile
There isn’t any disputing the versatility and athletic ability Michigan Wolverine Jabrill Peppers brings to a football field. In his three seasons at Ann Arbor, Peppers has been lined up as a safety, running back, cornerback and this past season a linebacker. If that wasn’t enough, Peppers was also the Wolverines primary punt and kickoff returner. If there was something to be done, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh looked to Peppers to do it.
But even with arguably being the best athlete on the field every time he took the field, Peppers production didn’t match his natural ability. As a defensive back, primarily as a safety, Peppers only had one interception in his Michigan career. Knowing how athletic Peppers is, that statistic is mind blowing.
That isn’t the only statistic, or lack thereof, that draws the attention of NFL scouts when looking at Peppers. As a returner, Peppers only had one touchdown return, a punt, and that didn’t occur until this past season. Peppers most productive position while at Michigan was at running back, a position that he isn’t projected to play at the NFL level. Lining up in the backfield this past season Peppers had 167 yards rushing and three touchdown carries.
The lack of production could be linked to Michigan not finding him a permanent home on defense. This past season, Peppers lined up as a linebacker, a position that he has no chance of playing at the next level. In his sophomore season, Peppers lined up primarily at safety and before that, he lined up at both safety and cornerback as a freshman. In Peppers’ three seasons at Michigan, he never settled in at just one position. Many believe that if Peppers was allowed to focus on just one position, he would have thrived.
Count Daniel Parlegreco of DTPDraftScout as one who believes that. Parlegreco projects Peppers as a strong safety in the NFL, playing near the line of scrimmage so he can be closer to the football. He believes that Peppers has the natural ability to be eventually compared to Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu or former Pittsburgh Steelers standout safety Troy Polamalu. Parlegreco has Peppers listed as a top ten player for the 2017 NFL Draft.
- Superior athletic ability;
- His ability to lineup at different positions on the defensive side of the ball;
- Proven return ability, on punts and kickoffs;
- If deemed a safety in the NFL, he has great size for that position.
- Lack of experience at one defensive position;
- Production doesn’t match his athletic ability, only one interception during his Michigan career;
- Won’t be a plug and play type of player on an NFL defense, will need time to learn;
- Doesn’t have experience defending NFL types of passing offenses.
NFL Comparison: A larger Tyrann Mathieu
Teams with Need at Position: Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys
Projection: mid to late first round
Peppers’ lack of experience at just one position might cause him to fall on day one of the draft. But it is hard to believe that he will completely fall out of the first round. You can’t teach talent, and Peppers has a lot of it. If he were to fall to a team who has an established defensive backfield coach, it might be the best situation for Peppers.
If Peppers takes to coaching, the sky could be the limit for Peppers. At this point, his NFL career is comparable to a blank canvas and if he lands with the right team, his career might turn out to be a masterpiece.