I'll take “Most polarizing NFL prospects” for 500, Alex. What's that? Over-trodden cliches is not an actual category? “Take that for data” – Jabrill Peppers probably.
Hey, cliches are cliches for a reason and polarizing is basically just a synonym for most misunderstood. Flipping on film and trying to dissect why so many critics miss the dominant wrecking ball flying all over the field is puzzling at first. Even diehard Michigan fans are divided – often misled by the already misled media. Then you add context. It's hard to take in a player's talent if you don't understand what you're watching and it's easy to get lost in the film if you're unfamiliar with Michigan football and Jabrill Peppers' ever-evolving roles.
Enter Brett Kollmann, savior of the benighted whom seek education. Kollman is a former NFL Network Assistant, SB Nation writer for the Houston Texans Battle Red Blog, regular on SportsRadio 610 Houston, and by far the best YouTube NFL analyst around.
But why should you care? Because Kollmann eloquently explains why everything you think you think about Jabrill Peppers is incredibly wrong and he has the film the prove it. Talking at length about a player's impact outside of the box score is often lip service to justify something without empirical evidence – until it isn't.
Meet the REAL Jabrill Peppers
I could write ten of these and still not expound Peppers' impact as well as Kollmann. Those of you who don't buy into Peppers' ability and refuse to watch today's free lecture need not read further. This article is not for the stubborn and lazy.
It's for enlightenment.
And if Jabrill Peppers is sitting there at 21 when the Detroit Lions are on the clock (*spoiler alert* he won't be) Bob Quinn might look like Peppers sprinting to the podium.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a player in this draft with more instant impact potential – especially one that fits so well into Detroit's needs.
A defense that was 30th in yards per drive allowed in 2016 is in desperate need of talent. Peppers brings not only that talent and playmaking ability to an oft-overmatched defense but the versatility that is invaluable in today's NFL.
Peppers would project as a day one starter as a versatile safety that would never have to come off the field regardless of personnel. He can slide to the weak side of a porous linebacking unit if needed or shift as a nickel to mask a deficient cornerback room. He'll shut down an opposing backfield and eat up bubble screens at an incredible rate.
Peppers is the ultimate chess piece for Teryl Austin's defense. He can be one of the top blitzing safeties in the league the day he's drafted and some of the hardest decisions will be how often to send him.
The best part? Peppers can and will be whatever Teryl Austin wants him to be. As he showed at Michigan, he's selfless and will sell out for whatever role helps the team WIN.
Master of All?
Many have knocked Peppers as a player without a defined role. Someone who can do a lot of things well but nothing great. Those people haven't watched much football.
I could write a book on Peppers' defensive ability but you wouldn't read it and Kollmann covered enough already. He'd be a first rounder on that side of the ball alone… but wait, there's more!
Peppers brings an ELITE game-breaking return ability with him to the NFL. Vision, speed, agility, elusiveness, he possesses every trait to turn the Lions inept return game into one of the league's best. (Andre Roberts? Bye, Felicia!) Those hands that many perceive as subpar sure had a knack for plucking line drive punts from the air and giving opposing coaches heart problems.
That same return ability can be harnessed as an offensive weapon as well whether out of the backfield, wildcat, or as a receiver. The Lions aren't likely to use him on this side of the ball often but the option alone – especially in a pinch – is comforting.
Would Bob Quinn Take Him?
Queue fastest 40-yard dash by an NFL GM in league history as Quinn personally delivers the card to Roger Goodell.
We KNOW Quinn has an eye on team needs and a leaky defense.
We KNOW Quinn has an affinity for athletic freaks of the speedy variety.
We KNOW Quinn likes versatile players that can fill multiple roles.
Basically, Bob Quinn might have a poster of Jabrill Peppers in his room.
Will he be there at 21?
And that is really the only question that matters isn't it?
Unfortunately, it will probably take more than a dilute sample at the combine from possible over-hydration for Peppers to fall to 21. It's not the longest of shots but I doubt he makes it far past the Baltimore Ravens at 16. Oblivious media pundits might not know where he fits in the NFL but every single team in the league knows exactly how they'd use him and there's not one that wouldn't like to add him to their roster.
For the Lions sake, let's hope that's not in the top 20.