NFL Hot Press: Teams Split on Jabrill Peppers Being a First-Round Pick

Teams Split on Jabrill Peppers Being a First-Round Pick

Updated Feb. 13, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Michigan star defender Jabrill Peppers is one of the most intriguing prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. Last season, Peppers was a Heisman Trophy candidate in leading a tough Michigan defense while also being a star on special teams and contributing some on offense. For the NFL, there has been some question on how Peppers fits with most teams projecting Peppers to be a hybrid dime linebacker and safety, similar to Arizona safety Deone Bucannon. However the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Peppers is a bit undersized for that role. Given the questionable position fit, surveyed teams to see if they thought Peppers would be a first-round pick, and teams were split 50-50 on Peppers going in the first round. 

Three teams said they thought that Peppers would end up going on Thursday night. They thought that his range was from the middle of the first round to late in the first round. One AFC director of college scouting said of Peppers, “Probably will go in the first after he tests well at the combine. I would say 20-30 range.” Peppers is known to be a great athlete, so impressive workouts at the combine and are pro day are expected.   

Three other teams said they thought Peppers would go early in the second round. The position fit, concerns about him in pass coverage, and being a bit undersized in a safety/linebacker role to tackle NFL running backs were working against Peppers. One national scout for a NFC team had this to say about Peppers, “He’s a smaller Landon Collins. He has to be a safety in my opinion, but he has even less coverage exposure than Landon did coming out as a pure strong safety.”  

Thus, Peppers needs to live up to expectations with a strong combine, pro day, and private workouts to help his chances of going on the opening night of the draft. It only takes one team to fall in love, and there are a number of teams in the middle to late first round that could use an upgrade at safety. However, heading into the combine, teams are split on if Peppers will end up being a first-round pick.