Some scouts have called Jabrill Peppers the most versatile player in the NFL Draft. Others aren’t so sure if he’ll live up to the hype.
The big question has become just when will Peppers — who can play linebacker, defensive back and who even carried the football in 2016 — be drafted? Some aren’t impressed with his body of work as a defensive back, while others think he is a can’t miss prospect for a team needing a versatile defender.
Either way, the former Michigan standout, who played both linebacker and safety for the Wolverines, has a big fan in Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn.
While Lynn talks up a few of the top safety prospects in this year’s draft class, he believes Peppers has what it takes to be a “nice safety in the National Football League,” saying the reason the former Peppers evaluation has been all over the place is because of his versatility in college.
“He plays so many positions,” Lynn said. “I believe if you put him at one position, I think he can be a superstar — it’s that simple. He’s been a superstar his whole life. I don’t think it’s going to stop because he’s in the National Football League. He’s got a lot of juice.”
Safety is a position of need for the Chargers. The team re-signed Jahleel Addae to a four-year, $22 million deal. But fellow safety Dwight Lowery is 31 years old and has two years left on his contract.
Chargers defensive backs coach Ron Milus likes his safeties to be interchangeable. Although Addae excelled playing as an in-the-box safety, he also played 300 snaps as a free safety, so he could serve as a deep safety and Peppers could find a role as an in-the-box presence in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme.
The Chargers also need help in the return game, and Peppers could fill a role there. Bradley also values players capable of being tone-setters — smart players who can grow into leaders on and off the field.
Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman served in those roles with Bradley’s defense for the Seattle Seahawks, and Peppers has the potential to develop into that type of leader at the next level.
While there are still a lot of question marks surrounding Peppers’ ability to translate his versatility to the NFL, his athleticism is undeniable.