DALLAS - Remember the kid in high school that could play virtually anywhere on the field? One minute he was slinging touchdowns on offense, and the next he was getting in the backfield for a sack or intercepting a pass.
Some may call that player a jack-of-all-trades, and under the dictionary definition of jack-of-all-trades, it says “see Jabrill Peppers.”
Peppers was a Heisman contender last season at Michigan because he did everything on the defensive side of the ball. He played safety, linebacker and even returned kicks and punts. Even at 5’11, 213 pounds, Peppers is able to impact plays at the line of scrimmage with lightning quickness and a burst of speed that is almost unmatched.
Only now, Peppers’ ability to play several positions may come back to bite him.
In the NFL, teams don’t want someone to play four positions – even if they play them all well. Teams want an elite linebacker or an elite safety, which means Peppers must figure out where exactly he fits in.
Last season with the Wolverines, Peppers was the linebacker of the year, racking up 72 tackles, four sacks and one interception. Whether it’s on the edge, in the slot or at safety, Peppers can hang with the best of them. Need him to come up to the line and stop the run?
He can do that.
Need Peppers to drop back in a nickel package and defend a tight end of wide receiver? Yeah, he can do that, too.
But Peppers is not only limited to zone coverage. His speed and agility allow him to hang with wide receivers and tight ends in man coverage, up the seam and sideline to sideline. When he’s not blanketing opposing quarterback's targets, Peppers is blowing by offensive tackles en route to the quarterback.
And the hits he delivers don’t look pleasant.
Although Peppers has yet to commit to one position, he is still one of the most dynamic and athletic prospects in the upcoming draft.
Some question his ball skills, especially with only one interception last year, and wonder how his "tweener" body size will hold up. He's on the smaller side for a linebacker, and is slightly too big for safety.
That said, no one can doubt Peppers is an intriguing prospect. For several teams eyeing defensive help, look no further than this Swiss Army knife from Ann Arbor.
Which position do you think Peppers will eventually play? Share your thoughts with Reece on Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.
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