But what if things don’t go as planned?
We have heard that Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham could be in consideration for the Giants as a contingency plan, but now a new name is entering the conversation.
Both James Kratch of NJ.com and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY are reporting that the Giants have expressed interest in Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers.
With regards to Peppers, Kratch writes:
Earlier this week, we heard was some buzz the Giants like Peppers a lot, and they could consider him at No. 23 if their top targets are off the board. And Reese did have some intriguing comments during his pre-draft press conference about the versatility a player like Peppers brings. This all came before the former Paramus Catholic star's diluted positive drug test came to light, though.
I don't know where Peppers would necessarily fit with the safety-heavy Giants, and I don't think it's realistic to expect him to have a significant impact on offense beyond a gadget play here and there. But he'd bring playmaking ability to the team, and both Steve Spagnuolo and Tom Quinn can find ways to use him.
My gut tells me Peppers won't be the pick, and that he'll likely fall out of the first round entirely. The Giants should know the East Orange native well, though, and if they have a plan for him, this would be a splash pick - especially if the board doesn't break all that well for them.
Meanwhile, Vacchiano says that the Giants like Peppers as a “defensive weapon”, saying:
Oh, and one more thing. There's a potential sleeper pick for them at 23 -- or perhaps more likely if they do drop down a few spots. There are a few people inside the organization who really like Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers. He projects to a late-first, early-second-round pick. The "diluted sample" from his combine drug test doesn't worry them.
What they like is that he's a defensive weapon -- a hybrid linebacker/safety who can blitz, cover, and play the run. There are a lot of creative things defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could do with a weapon like that. And he can help the return game, too.
Don't rule out Peppers as a surprise, especially if the Giants move down in Round 1.
Raptor’s Take: I don’t think Peppers is terribly unreasonable. I like him enough that I included him last week in my own list of ten potential dark horses for the Giants.
This is what I said then about Peppers [Prospect Profile].
There are a few defensive backs who could surprise and be in this slot, but Peppers’ athleticism, competitiveness, work ethic, and “Team First” mentality could capture the hearts of the Giants’ coaches.
While the safety position could be stacked with talent if everything works out, we should also consider the possibility that the Giants aren’t as sure as we would hope. Darian Thompson is coming back from a nagging foot injury, Nat Berhe has a concerning track record with concussions, and Andrew Adams might not be more than a good third safety.
If the Giants believe that the latter case is closer to the truth, they might look to add a safety.
Peppers is certainly an athletic and versatile weapon, but that was as much a curse as a blessing in college. Michigan played him at 11 different positions in 2016, and while he would play 100 snaps in some games, his lack of polish or experience at any one position could be hurting his stock.
Whichever team takes him in the draft will need a definite plan for how to use and develop him. Peppers is rangy and capable in man coverage as well as willing in run defense. If the Giants’ interest is genuine and not a smokescreen, they could be looking at using Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, and Peppers in a nickle base defense. Considering all three are bigger than average safeties, and hard hitters, it might not be too far fetched.
If things go sideways on the way to the 23rd overall pick, what do you think of the Giants drafting Jabrill Peppers?