2017 NFL Draft
Prospect: Jabrill Peppers
Prospect: Jabrill Peppers
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 215
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Peppers is one of the most versatile players in the country. He has played just about every skilled position on both sides of the ball with the exception of quarterback, and it sounds like he is going to see some time at linebacker this year as well. That frustrates the scout in me because you'd love to see him continue to develop instincts and awareness at the position that he is going to play in the NFL, which is safety. On the other hand, as a fan, it is amazing to see some of the things he can do with the ball in his hands.
As a defensive back, I see a guy that lines up in the slot a lot. That limits how much we get to see him involved in the play, and that is why they are considering him at a hybrid-linebacker position. This kid is a playmaker, and I applaud the coaches for trying to put him in a position where teams can't avoid him. When the ball does come his way, I see an aggressive tackler that explodes to the ball when he sees the play. When his instincts become more consistent, and he starts recognizing plays quicker, the potential is there for a lot of "wow" moments.
Overall, I think he is much more comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage, and he recognizes plays more quickly from there. I am interested to see if his instincts kick-start when he does play the linebacker position. It can help him develop a nose for the ball, which he will need if he is going to be worthy of a high pick as a strong safety. It will also help him learn to play as part of a unit in the box. One aspect that made Troy Polamalu so good was that he knew when the ball carrier was his responsibility, and he knew when it wasn't. There will be times when it is Pepper's job to take on a blocker in the hole or on the edge in order to turn the ball carrier towards other defenders in pursuit. That is key when playing as a unit in the box, and playing linebacker should help Peppers in that area.
In coverage, he has natural feet and awareness. He is very comfortable locking onto receivers in man coverage, and he has terrific ball skills. He needs to be a little cleaner with his press coverage. He jams well, but he has to learn to get those hands off the receiver once he is in position. After all, a jam is a way to nullify the receiver's explosion and get the defender in good cover-position. He has to avoid getting caught up continuing to hand-fight down the field when he is already on the guy's hip. That also tends to delay him getting his head around. He has to trust his athleticism, and that he can run with these guys once he gets into position, and not rely on continuing to hand-fight.
In zone coverage, I feel he is a bit less comfortable. He looks good when he is closer to the line, but I just don't see the same comfort-level when he is further back. Putting him as a single-high safety, or as a two-deep guy just doesn't seem like something he is comfortable with right now. The funny thing is he has the skillset to be great in that area. He closes on the ball well, has great ball skills, and terrific leaping ability to highpoint the pass. More opportunities in this area would likely help in his comfort-level because things like angles and route-recognition only get better with experience.
Overall, there may not be a player with more potential in the country to be a game-changer on the defensive side of the ball, but his progression has been halted due to the multiple positions he plays. As a competitor, it is easy to work on areas that you need the most improvement, so when you play both ways, the more natural position usually gets neglected in order to justify being worth putting on the other side of the ball. I'd love to see Peppers focus on safety but the skills are there, and once he commits to it, the sky is the limit. If there is one issue I have with him playing safety, it is that I want to see him add some weight to his frame. He needs the strength to take on and fight off blocks, and also be the kind of heavy-hitter that can be intimidating. Outside of that, I see a player that is going to generate a lot of excitement come draft day.
Compares to (Current NFL Player): Eric Berry (Kansas City Chiefs)
- Versatile enough to play any skill position at a high level outside of QB
- Outstanding leaping ability
- Terrific ball skills
- Quick feet
- Explodes to the ball
- Arguably the best all-around athlete in college football
- Instincts are a bit raw at the safety position
- Needs to add some strength to his frame
- Needs to get more comfortable playing away from the line of scrimmage
1)   Is Jabrill Peppers a top-10 pick in the next NFL Draft?   - NJ.Com |
2)   Why Jabrill Peppers is worthy of Heisman hype   - Today's U Sports |
3)   Kornacki: Peppers is Exceptional But Here's Why
- MGoBlue.com |
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5)   Jabrill Peppers Instagram|