The Green Bay Packers have a lot of needs to address in the next few months, but when it comes to adding speed and versatility to the defense, no one would be better than Jabrill Peppers of Michigan.
Peppers is a linebacker/safety/corner/return specialist/running back that played essentially just two full seasons for the Wolverines. In that time, he showed the ability to make explosive plays in all three phases of the game.
In terms of big plays, Green Bay makes plenty of those on offense. Aaron Rodgers and the boys have that covered. Yet, on the defensive side of the ball, it’s plain to see, the Packers are lacking when it comes to impact players.
That’s where Peppers comes in.
As recently as a month or two ago, Peppers was being talked about as a top-5 pick. Many assumed he would be a sure-fire top-10 selection.
However, teams started to grow concerned about his lack of a true position and probably his lack of size to be a three-down linebacker (6-1, 205). And it’s understandable. At Michigan he played all over the place. He has only played linebacker for one year, before that he was a safety, before that a corner.
In two college seasons, Peppers notched 11 passes defensed, but just one interception. He did add 119 tackles, 13 for loss. He also had three sacks and scored a punt return touchdown, while averaging 26.8 yards per kick return and 13.1 per punt.
Peppers may not have a true position, but look at his skills: He can tackle, play the ball, cover, blitz, he can play at the line of scrimmage or off of it. He is an NFL coaches dream and for the Packers, he is a perfect fit.
Like previous nickel corners such as Charles Woodson and pending free-agent Micah Hyde, Peppers isn’t afraid to be physical and play near the line of scrimmage. His closing speed off the edge is impressive and whether it was as a nickel corner, safety, linebacker or some kind of hybrid role that fit among all three, Peppers could play it.
Peppers could also make an immediate impact in the return game. He’s electrifying with the ball in his hands and allowing him to use his talent returning kicks is important. He’s good enough to be a game changer there. And if he is used properly, he could become a game changer on defense too.
With his speed and natural athleticsim, Peppers has the ability to excel at multiple places, but one place I would start, is nickel corner. The Michigan junior has often said he wants to follow in the footsteps of Charles Woodson -- if he wound up in Green Bay -- he would be given every chance to do just that.
And with his kind of skills, Peppers may even be able to do it. We all know there is nothing the Packers need more than a defensive playmaker, so getting Peppers in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, would be a glorious gift.
But will Ted Thompson be bold enough to pull the trigger?
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