I've been quite outspoken about my desire NOT to have the Redskins sniffing around Jabrill Peppers at pick 17 in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watching him at Michigan, and viewing as much film as I could get my hands on, I THOUGHT I came to the conclusion that he was not a good fit on the back-end of our defense as a free safety - a position we desperately need.
Now, I am having doubts about my own opinions...
For this article, I am going to look at some pros and cons regarding Peppers as a free safety in the NFL:
- Peppers is multi-dimensional. He can play strong safety, free safety, corner, nickle-back, or dime linebacker. He can also play some offense as a running back, slot wide receiver and even wildcat quarterback. On top of this, he can serve as a punt and kick returner. Who wouldn't want this type of player on their team?
- Jabrill's athleticism is off-the-charts. At the NFL combine, he ran an official 4.46 40 yard dash, recorded a 35.5 inch vertical, had a 10 '7" broad jump, and did 19 reps at 225 pounds. He looked smooth and fluid in on-field drills as both a linebacker and defensive back.
- Well respected NFL draft analyst Mick Mayock recently listed Peppers as his number one ranked safety prospect in what is widely viewed as a loaded class. Mayock had this to say about him:
"People wanted to see two things. One, can he open his hips and drive to a deep third or to a deep half, track and catch the football? His hips are outstanding," Mayock added. "There is no problem driving to the deep third, the deep half, making a cut to get back to the football. The (other) issue was, and there is some conversation about it in NFL circles: does he catch the ball on defense as well as he does on offense? He had two more drops today on deep balls. He only had one interception in his career -- that will continue to be a question."
- Peppers compares his game to Patrick Chung and Earl Thomas - In an interview by Brooke Cersosimo on NFL.com, Jabrill says the following:
When I was watching the Patriots in the Super Bowl, or whenever I caught their games, I would say I'm doing similar stuff to Patrick Chung. So guys like Patrick Chung and Earl Thomas. I think [Thomas and I] share some of the size and the way he plays. He plays aggressive, fiery and doesn't care who you are. He's going to come down and try to give you everything he has. If I had to say, it'd be a combination of those two guys. But at the end of the day, I take what I can from veterans and guys who have done it before me and try to find my own way.
- Peppers measured in at just 5'11"at the combine. he was listed on Michigan's roster at 6'1". He did add some good weight, coming in at 213 pounds, up from the 206 he was listed at Michigan, without sacrificing any speed or movement skills.
- In his three years at Michigan, Peppers recorded just 11 total passes defended and one career interception. His lone interception came on a tipped pass that landed right in his bread basket. He had zero forced fumbles and zero fumble recoveries.
- Jabrill has limited tape of him as a free safety in Michigan's defense. Many feel he can make the transition in the pros, but there is hardly any tape to back up their claim. He seemed slow to recognize route combos, and tends to be easily sucked up on play-action.
- The Redskins already have a "jack of all trades" player in second year pro Su'a Cravens. Although Cravens doesn't have Peppers' athleticism, he does have exceptional instincts and a high football IQ. Craven's is expected to occupy the role of strong safety and dime linebacker. The Redskins also signed D.J. Swearinger in free agency. Swearinger is much more of a strong safety, but may be asked to play some free safety in Washington. Adding Peppers to this mix could result in having three players not playing their natural positions in Greg Manusky's defense.
So, after reading some of these pros and cons, and having seen Peppers play for three seasons at Michigan, do you feel he should be considered with the Redskins first round pick as a free safety?
My feeling is if he's sitting there at number 17, I just may hope the Redskins pull the trigger.