Everyone who is knowledgable about college football are aware of the legendary Charles Woodson. The impact that Woodson made in the late 90s at the University of Michigan will forever be etched in the minds of college football fans.
For fans of the Michigan Wolverines, the recruitment of Jabrill Peppers in the 2014 recruiting class sparked those flashbacks of Woodson. The native of East Orange, New Jersey played three seasons in Ann Arbor and his versatility has rarely been seen since the days of Woodson. As Peppers turns his sights to the NFL, many are trying to figure what position best fits Peppers. He has seen time at cornerback, safety, and linebacker along with return duties at Michigan. The only sure thing about Peppers is that he is a talented prospect capable of providing excellent skill to a team. Here is the scouting report on the versatile Peppers.
Position: Safety/Rover Linebacker/Kick Returner/Punt Returner
Games Watched: 2016 vs Ohio State, 2016 vs Wisconsin, 2016 vs Colorado, 2016 vs Iowa, 2016 vs Rutgers, 2015 vs Michigan State
- Arguably the best pure athlete in the entire NFL Draft; Played CB, LB, SS, KR, and PR during his three seasons as a Wolverine
- Tackling has improved over the course of his collegiate career
- 2016 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, 2016 Consensus All-American, 2016 first team All-Big Ten (66 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, INT in 2016)
- 29 total touches, three touchdowns in spot duty at WR/RB in 2016; 14.8 yards per punt return, 26.0 yards per kick return, one punt return TD
- Able to pursue plays sideline-to-sideline
- Able to be effective in blitz packages
- Displays quickness to knife through gaps to get into opponents’ backfield
- Athletically gifted
- Sharp vision in return game to navigate into the open field
- Shows discipline to properly wrap-up ball carriers
The video below shows Peppers disguising as well as timing his B-gap blitz effectively to immediately bring down quarterback:
- Inconsistent instincts against the pass and the run
- Lacks ability to shed blocks consistently
- Can polish his overall tackling ability a little more
- Tends to overreact at times on play-action fakes
- Lack of turnover production a concern for some scouts (one career INT, no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries)
Conclusion: Peppers is very much so an interesting product. On one hand, he has versatility that most teams covet. His ability to play a hybrid S/LB role can be a definite asset on a defense. On the other hand, while he can be a probable playmaker at the next level, more was expected from Peppers. If there is a likely position for Peppers, he seems to be a better fit at strong safety. His skill set is more profound near the line of scrimmage than it is away from it. Peppers has plenty of upside and while he has room for improvement, he can be a vital piece to a defense. Peppers will likely hear his name called within the mid-to-late first round.