Jabrill Peppers remains a bit of an unknown commodity.
The former Michigan linebacker/safety/returner announced in January that he would forgo his fourth year of eligibility and declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, following a season in which he emerged as one of college football’s most versatile players.
Peppers is projected as a first-round pick in several mock drafts. CBSSports.com, for example, has Peppers projected as high as No. 16 and as low as No. 32.
Thursday at the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, several general managers and a coach both considered what Peppers had to offer a team — and what drafting him would hinge upon.
Here’s what they said:
Dave Caldwell, Jaguars general manager, on where Peppers would fit on an NFL team
“It depends on your scheme. This next couple days will depend on how much he weighs, what he runs and the athletic testing skills.”
#49ers GM Lynch on Jabrill Peppers' NFL position:
"I haven’t figured that out, but I know it’s a fun film to watch. He’s electric."
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) March 2, 2017
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers coach
“We want to evaluate a player like him, because we did the same thing with Shaq Thompson. We had everybody talking to us like, ‘Oh, he’s a special teams player’ to (saying), ‘He’s a running back, he’s a safety, he’s a linebacker.’ But we looked at him and thought, ‘Where would he best fit us?’ For us, it was the linebacker position, for us it was what we call the Buffalo position, the Buffalo nickel.
“Where you can take a bigger guy, put him out to a slot receiver and still have some athleticism to help you. Well, when you look at Peppers, you look at what he does, wow. Here’s a guy that gives you some safety traits. Here’s a guy that can probably come down in the box like a nickel, come down in the box like a linebacker. And if you ever really did need it, you can put him on the offensive side as well. He’s got a lot of special-teams value. So you have to really break it down to how does he fit you, and what other special traits he has to have the rest of the football team.”
John Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs general manager
“He is a very unique athlete, an East Orange, New Jersey, guy. The guy is going to come here, he’s probably going to blow the combine up, and I think it’s whichever team selects him where they feel most comfortable, because there’s some people at one time thought he was a top-10 running back, (or) could have been a top-10 running back early in his career. As you see, (Michigan defensive coordinator) Don Brown now moves him over to the other side of the ball where he can try to work him up closer to the line of scrimmage, so now he’s a dime linebacker. There are other times where we see him on the jet-sweep-reverse and you just see him explode through the defense.
“I do find him a fascinating study in terms of where do you play him. It’s kind of like the study a couple of years ago I think with Shaq Thompson that the Panthers drafted, he was the running back-linebacker guy. It’ll be interesting to see where, at the end of the day, people have him on their boards.”
Former Michigan running back De’Veon Smith, however, offered some advice to general managers on how to use Peppers:
De'Veon says he'd play Jabrill at safety also said "not many people are going to run faster than Jabrill" at the combine
— angelique (@chengelis) March 2, 2017
On Thursday, NFL.com listed Peppers as one of the five linebackers with the most to prove at this year’s draft.
— NFL (@NFL) March 2, 2017