Strengths: Peppers is an incredibly versatile athlete. While his official position was linebacker, you could’ve considered him as a safety or a nickel cornerback. Michigan would line him up against opposing team’s slot receivers, matched him with the running back, or put him as the QB spy in the event Michigan faced a running QB like J.T. Barrett. He contributed on offense and was a dangerous punt returner. Peppers added an entirely new dimension to Michigan’s defense and offense, and his absence in the Orange Bowl was noticeable as Dalvin Cook managed to have some success rushing ball against Michigan’s incredibly strong run defense.
He is a reliable tackler in space and is incredibly effective in blowing up bubble screen passes to his side of the field. He is great in run support and his ability to cover sideline to sideline made him the most important asset in containing plays that attack the edge. When used as a blitzer, he was incredibly effective.
As a returner, he has the chance to be the most explosive returner the league has seen since Devin Hester. So many times he had major returns, giving Michigan great field position to start their drives. He had one punt return for a touchdown this season against Colorado and could’ve had at least two more throughout the rest of the season if it weren’t for touchdown-cancelling penalties or turf monsters.
Weaknesses: Peppers’ coverage skills could use some work. Against Colorado he was responsible for a major coverage bust that led to a long Colorado touchdown pass. His small size for a linebacker sometimes caused him to get mauled by big offensive linemen. Other than that, there isn’t too much you can find wrong with what Jabrill Peppers brings to the table. Some say he lacked the ability to create turnovers, though turnovers are more luck than anything. His lack of interceptions stems from him playing linebacker so much that he wasn’t required to fall back into coverage as much.
The biggest question mark is he does not have a natural position. Is he a safety? Is a corner? Is a linebacker? Some teams might shy away from him because they don’t know what to do with him.
Overall: Jabrill Peppers is going to amaze scouts at the combine and at any additional workouts afterwards. His athleticism and is going to win teams over. A creative defensive coordinator will come up with so many different ways to utilize Peppers on his defense and if used correctly, Jabrill Peppers will have a long NFL career. While current mock drafts have Peppers sliding, I think amazing workouts will push him back into the top 15. In the end I see the Cleveland Browns using their 12th overall pick to select Jabrill Peppers. It might not please the fan base, who also double as Ohio State fans, but if Jabrill Peppers plays to his potential, I think he will win them over in no time.