If nothing else, Jabrill Peppers is certainly the most polarizing NFL prospect in recent memory. From second-ranked recruit overall coming out of high school to a top-5 draft projection early in the season, Peppers has always seemed destined for greatness at the next level. More recently, his draft stock has seemed to slip with many analysts pushing him to the tail end of the first round and even into the second in some cases, citing a perceived unclear NFL position.
Peppers’ elite athleticism and football i.q. are unquestioned and were on full display at the University of Michigan’s pro day. There, the do-it-all defender impressed the largest contingent of scouts some evaluators have ever seen at a pro day. The guest list included a long list of NFL head coaches and top team officials including the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick.
Count NFL Network’s draft analyst Mike Mayock among the impressed.
Peppers played a hybrid linebacker role for Michigan this past season but has seen snaps at every spot on the field sans offensive and defensive line. His versatility, athleticism, and understanding of the game make him a valued asset but also stir confusion regarding his best NFL fit. Teams interested in seeing his ability to maneuver in ways he wasn’t asked to as a linebacker did not leave disappointed according to Mayock.
“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.”
With that kind of fluid agility in and out of breaks and his elite speed, teams should have no problem finding productive ways to use Peppers. Mayock’s thoughts represent a break from the recent trend, but quite possibly fall closer in line with NFL evaluators.
If Peppers does indeed fall out of the top 10, don’t be surprised if he ends up under the tutelage of another Harbaugh – to the Baltimore Ravens at 16th overall. Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh can surely get plenty of ideas to utilize Peppers’ unique skillset from his brother, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.