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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

One of the draft’s most versatile players, does Peppers have a place on the Giants?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The general belief is that the more a prospect can do, the better off they are. A right tackle prospect who can also succeed at guard, or a guard who can play center, is better off than a more limited prospect. An edge player who can drop into coverage as well as rush the passer is more highly sought after than a player who could just do either, and a running back who can run and catch is prized.

But then it’s always possible to have too much of a good thing, and that might well be the case for Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers. Over the last two years Peppers has played snaps all over the field on offense, defense, and special teams. And while his versatility and athletic ability are attractive, has he shown enough at his natural position to be drafted highly?

The New York Giants might not need a safety right now, but they always value athleticism and versatility, so Peppers could be a player to pay attention to.

Measurables

Pros

  • Excellent and incredibly well-conditioned athlete. Fast, agile, and explosive, while routinely playing a ludicrous number of snaps.
  • Incredibly versatile. Played 11 different positions for Michigan on offense, defense, and special teams.
  • Special with the ball in his hands.
  • Capable of sticking with athletic receivers or running backs in coverage.
  • Good in run support. Generally diagnoses running plays well and is a willing hitter/tackler.
  • Highly competitive. Never backs down from a challenge or an opportunity to compete.

Cons

  • Almost too versatile for his own good. Played out of position at linebacker his final year at Michigan to help his team.
  • Lacks development at what would be his natural position in the NFL (safety).
  • Doesn’t get his hands on many balls. Had 10 passes defensed while playing safety, but only one interception in three years.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

In a vacuum, yes, he does fit with the Giants.

The bigger question is whether or not they can afford to draft him in the first round (which is where he would need to be drafted). Landon Collins might be the best safety in the NFL (and if he isn’t, he is certainly in the conversation), Andrew Adams filled in better than could possibly be expected for Darian Thompson, who has the Giants excited in his own right. They also have Nat Berhe, who is a good and fierce defender -- When he is healthy.

The Giants might not be able to justify spending a first-round selection on Peppers just based on their needs and depth at the position.

That being said, as a safety with the size and pop to play downhill in the box, the range to roam the center field, and the ability to hold up in coverage, he is well suited to play in Steve Spagnuolo’s blitz heavy and very “multiple” defense.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 25th overall

CBS Sports - 14th overall

Draft Countdown - 11th overall

Draft Tek - 8th overall

Final Thoughts

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t like Peppers.

Despite playing more snaps than some entire teams, he is still something of a developmental prospect as a safety. Scouts and draft gurus will point to his lack of ball skills as a negative. However, playing so many different positions to help his team, it’s unlikely that he has had the practice time -- especially given the NCAA’s rigid rules in that regard -- to truly develop as a safety.

But what really won me over was his performance at the NFL scouting combine. Not the workout per se, though that was impressive, but rather his perseverance and eagerness to compete despite getting a raw deal from the Combine officials. Rather than work out as a defensive back, as he planned, Peppers was told that he had to work out with the linebacker group, since that was the position he (officially) played in college. Rather than balk, he showed up and competed with a smile on his face. And stuck around to work out and compete again the next day with the defensive backs. The Combine is a grueling marathon for prospects, with the on-field workouts only capping a long and exhausting process. Peppers extended his combine with a second tough workout because he wanted to show what he could do as a defensive back (despite being above his playing weight for the position).

That tells says a lot about the young man, and one of those things is that he is a player that coaches will want on their teams.