This is the sixth in a series of film breakdowns of players that the Dolphins could draft with the 22nd overall pick Thursday.
Part 1: Haason Reddick.
Part 2: Jordan Willis.
Part 3: Forrest Lamp.
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Part 4: Taco Charlton.
Part 5: Reuben Foster.
Jabrill Peppers, all 5-foot-11 of him, stood before the assembled sporting press in Indianapolis last month and stated the obvious.
“What do I look like? I’m a safety. I’m a safety. Yes, I’m a safety.”
But he’s so much more.
He’s a linebacker.
He’s a nickel corner.
He’s a running back.
He’s a slot receiver.
He’s a Wildcat quarterback.
And he’s a returner — perhaps the best one in this year’s draft.
So if the Dolphins decide to take Peppers, the human Swiss Army knife from Michigan, their biggest concern won’t be finding a way to get him on the field. It’ll be finding a way to get him some rest.
Still, teams need to define his role, and worked toward doing so during meetings with Peppers at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“Basically they ask me where do I see myself playing, if they were to draft me where would they put me, what are my strong suits, what are my weaknesses, just things like that,” said Peppers, who played linebacker for the Wolverines in 2016. “I tell them my natural position is definitely in the defensive backfield. I had to fill a void this year because it was best for the team, and
if I had to do it all over again I would. I didn’t think it’ll hurt me. My mindset was whatever I had to do I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability and try to make plays when I can.”
And yes, offense came up in those meetings too.
“Slot receiver, running back, telling me I’m very dynamic with the ball in my hands, things like that.”
Peppers has drawn comparisons to fellow Michigan great Charles Woodson, who won a Heisman Trophy as a jack of all trades. But Woodson was also a master of one: playing corner.
Peppers still needs to master safety, which is where the Dolphins would play him. That’s the findings of Dolphins blogger Max Himmelrich, who broke down the tape.
Weight: 213 pounds.
Arm length: 30 3/4 inches.
Hands: 9 5/8 inches.
40 time: 4.46 seconds.
Bench press: 19 reps.
Vertical jump: 35.5 inches.
Broad jump: 128 inches.
SPARQ score: 130.7, 89.1st percentile, sixth among draft-eligible safeties.
Pros: Versatility is the name of the game for Jabrill Peppers. I believe he'd be able to line up as a run-stopping safety or a nickel corner (in addition to some snaps at running back). He tested very well at the combine -- his motor and effort combine well with his athleticism to produce some top-notch highlights.
Cons: Jabrill Peppers really is undersized for the way he plays. In the box, he's often blown back by offensive linemen coming into the second level. Entering the backfield, he sometimes failed to wrap up and bring down QBs. In addition, Peppers sometimes struggled to choose angles, allowing big plays on the Wolverines defense. He also will need to improve his decision making in coverage, as the pure foot speed isn't there to recover deep over the middle.
Fit for the Dolphins: This is where things get dicey. I believe Jabrill Peppers' ceiling in the NFL is Reshad Jones. So, the Dolphins would still need a safety who can cover deep, which would allow Jones to do what he does best. Jabrill Peppers doesn't fit this mold. While he could contribute in the Dolphins' often-utilized nickel defense, he wouldn't fit the need Miami currently has at safety. In the second round, where he won't be available, the pick could make sense. At No. 22, the Dolphins will need to address more pressing needs, meaning Peppers would be a "luxury pick" that they likely can't afford.