JABRILL Peppers’ already shaky draft stock has taken another hit. And this time it has nothing to do with the uncertainty about his position at the next level.
The New Jersey native and Heisman Trophy finalist was one of the most debated topics of the upcoming NFL draft, dissected like frog in chemistry class, even before word spread the University of Michigan star tested positive for a dilute urine sample at the combine, as ESPN reported on Monday.
Teams have been notified of the development. This only further clouds the value of the mystery prospect of the upcoming draft.
Once projected as a top-five pick, Peppers’ name has been projected to be called everywhere from the top third of the first round to the middle of the second.
And now there is a positive drug test to take into account, though a spokesperson from CAA, which represents Peppers, issued a statement giving the rising star’s side of the story.
“Peppers went to the combine” the CAA statement read.
“He was sick after flying there from San Diego. He has a history of cramping. Peppers was being pumped with fluids, drinking 8-10 bottles of water before he went to bed, because he was the first guy to work out two days for the LBs and DBs.
“He had to go through that first day, come back on second day, and that was the fear. So Peppers was pounding water and under the weather. He never failed a drug test in his life, nor tested positive before for any substance.”
Draft experts have been split on Peppers. ESPN analyst Todd McShay believed he was a second-round talent, and Bleacher Report’s Chris Simms described Peppers as the “most overrated” prospect in the draft.
Former NFL safety and CBS Sports analyst Corey Chavous said he’s one of the elite talents in the draft, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh — the brother of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh — sees Peppers as “an impact player.”
It all stems from the limited amount of tape on Peppers at his likely NFL position of safety, because he spent most of his career at Michigan at other positions, notably linebacker. Meanwhile, the safeties rated ahead of him, such as Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and LSU’s Jamal Adams, thrived in that spot in college.
“You don’t really see him do what he’s going to be asked to do at the next level,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.
Peppers’ versatility — the ability to play on both sides of the ball, in addition to special teams — endeared him to teammates and coaches at Michigan.
It helped the Wolverines produce back-to-back 10-win seasons. But that may be working against him now.
SiriusXM NFL analyst Phil Savage doesn’t think Peppers has a position at the next level. He could see teams using him as a hybrid outside linebacker/nickel defensive back.
“Where does he fit?” NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys general manager Gil Brandt said in a conference call. “That’s the big question.”
The criticism hasn’t sat well with the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Peppers, who responded to Simms’ harsh assessment — “most overrated” — on Twitter, writing: “I played out of position(LB @ 200lbs) pounds, and still became an All American. How many players can/ARE WILLING to do that for their team? Call me what you want, but I will EAT regardless no matter the situation or circumstance.”
I played out of position(LB @ 200lbs) pounds, and still became an All American. How many players can/ARE WILLING to do that for their team?
— JP5 (@JabrillPeppers) April 11, 2017
It’s hard to quibble with Peppers’ junior year at Michigan. The New Jersey native led a team full of NFL prospects with 16 tackles for losses and notched 72 tackles overall, third on the team.
He produced four sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. Peppers thrived on the other side of the ball, too, scoring three touchdowns, returning a punt for a touchdown and averaging a Big Ten-best 14.8 yards on punt returns.
He also picked up 26 yards per kickoff return.
Peppers was named the Hornung Award winner as the country’s most versatile player and won the Lott Trophy, which goes to a defensive player for character and performance.
FOLLOW us on Facebook at PortalState!