INDIANAPOLIS — Jabrill Peppers measured shorter (5-foot-10 and change) and ran faster (4.46) at the 2017 NFL Combine than many pundits expected.
But at least one draftnik — Pro Football Focus’ Josh Liskiewitz — told Land of 10 Sunday that he’s not sure the former Michigan Wolverines three-way threat tested well enough to make himself a lock to be drafted in the first round.
“I think he was always on the edge anyway,” Liskiewitz said. “I don’t know — maybe it’s just me, personally, just confirming my own bias, but I just don’t see him going in the first. I just don’t think he’s done enough on the field to translate at the next level.”
Several analysts, including NFL.com’s Mike Mayock, have been effusive in their praise for the former Wolverines safety/linebacker/return ace/wildcat quarterback:
— Kevin Goheen (@CincyGoGo) March 5, 2017
But Liskiewitz says Peppers’ film at Michigan shows a prospect who doesn’t tackle consistently enough to be considered a reliable in-the-box weapon and hasn’t played the ball in the air well enough to be projected as a “center fielder” sort of safety, the way NFL teams see, for example, ex-Ohio State defensive back Malik Hooker.
“He’s only defended six passes in his whole career,” Liskiewitz said. “That’s not very good. Without him being a super-elite athlete, (teams) are going to be like, ‘There are so many guys we can play instead.’ ”
Peppers recorded a 35.5-inch vertical leap and a broad jump of 10 feet, 8 inches. The vertical leap ranked fifth among the linebackers that participated and the broad jump tied for first in the position group with ex-Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt.
“You need to see the elite athleticism in order to (project) him in this class going in the first round,” Liskiewitz said. “I personally just don’t think we’ve seen it.”