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PFF scouting report: Jabrill Peppers, S/CB, Michigan

<> at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Piscataway, New Jersey.

School: Michigan

Position fit: Box safety, possibly cover-2 CB

Stats to know: Through three years at Michigan he gave up 58 receptions on 93 targets and broke up six passes with no interceptions when the primary defender

What he does best:

  • Smooth, explosive athlete – can change directions, accelerate to top speed in a flash
  • Makes plays coming forward, especially when unblocked
  • Can beat blockers to the point of attack with his explosiveness when he’s able to attack downhill
  • Beat WR screen blocks with his quick recognition and closing speed
  • Impressive change of direction, recovery
  • Tackling is much improved from 2015, where he tended to overrun plays
  • Adds special teams value. Excellent elusiveness and vision as a punt returner and ranked No. 2 in PFF return grades in 2016

Biggest concern:

  • Not physical in press coverage – gives too many free releases off the line of scrimmage
  • Will try to run around blockers instead of address head-on, can lose fits
  • Played out of position when lined up as a linebacker in 2016; lacks the strength, physicality to take on and defeat blockers at the point of attack
  • In zone coverage, whether deep or in the box, he tends to attack the first thing he sees, which gets him out of position; wants to find the ball too much
  • For such an elite athlete, he is consistently late to break and close on passes in front when in zone or off coverage
  • Lack of bulk, strength limits his effectiveness in coverage against tight ends

Player comparison: Johnathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars

Cyprien has never graded well in coverage, but has evolved into a viable chess piece against the run who is used in a variety of alignments for the Jaguars

Bottom line:

Peppers is one of the most difficult evaluations in this draft class because outside of punt returner, he lacks a natural NFL position. While he graded well against the run each of the past two seasons, much of his success was when attacking the backfield unblocked. While he is clearly one of the elite athletes of this draft class, he was unable to translate to his coverage skills. While he clearly has the speed to play free safety, he has limited experience, and has not displayed the instincts needed to decipher plays quick enough to prevent big catches. The comparison to Cyprien works well for him, in large part because it will likely take significant time for him to find his niche in the NFL, and will likely need to play a very specialized role on defense. While many pundits have long been convinced that he is a lock for the first round, his lack of applicable NFL skills makes him a huge risk to be taken so high, especially considering the high-levels of talent and depth in this draft’s defensive backs.


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