One of the more intriguing prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft is Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, even if teams are torn on how to use him. So they’ll get a chance to compare him to both apples and oranges this weekend.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Peppers will participate in linebacker drills on Sunday and defensive back drills Monday, giving teams a chance to see him at multiple positions.
At 5-foot-10 7/8 and 213 pounds, he’s certainly safety-sized, as he’s a good two inches shorter than the guy he’s often compared to, Arizona’s Deone Bucannon. But with more and more hybrid players entering the league, it’s a matter of how each individual team evaluates him within their own system. Panthers coach Ron Rivera has been through this before, having gone through a similar process before drafting Washington’s Shaq Thompson in the first round two years ago.
“We had everybody talking to us like, ‘Oh he’s a special teams player,’ to ‘He’s a running back, he’s a safety, he’s a linebacker.’ But we looked at him and thought, ‘Where would he best fit us?’ For us it was the linebacker position, for us it was what we call the Buffalo position, the Buffalo nickel. Where you can take a bigger guy, put him out to a slot receiver and still have some athleticism to help you.
“Well, when you look at Peppers, you look at what he does, wow. Here’s a guy that gives you some safety traits. Here’s a guy that can probably come down in the box like a nickel, come down in the box like a linebacker. And if you ever really did need it, you can put him on the offensive side as well. He’s got a lot of special teams value. So you have to really break it down to how does he fit you, and what other special traits he has to have the rest of the football team.”
Peppers will begin to show teams those traits this weekend by pulling double duty, knowing he also worked as a returner in college as teams try to figure out how they’d deploy him.