Rob Rang mocked safety Jabrill Peppers to the Buccaneers at number 19. Is this the right move?
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It’s mock draft season, Buccaneers fans. As the NFL prepares for the Combine workouts and the draft, we all try to handicap exactly what our teams are going to do when they go on the clock. They are watching film and workouts, we are watching clips, reading stats, and trying to predict.
All over the map, the mocks will be coming in. They will appear, they will morph as workouts occur, as rumors come out, …etc. As the weeks go by the mock drafts will take shape as we try to figure out what our teams are going to do. Who is going to select the next J.J. Watt? What about the next Julio Jones? Or even the next Tom Brady? Who is calling their name at the NFL draft.
That’s for all of us to try and guess.
Today we are looking at a mock from CBS Sports expert Rob Rang. He believes that the Bucs are going to go defense with their first round pick, specifically, Jabrill Peppers from Michigan. Here is what he had to say:
The Bucs’ duo at safety of Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald is one of the league’s least athletic. That certainly is not the case with Peppers, who wowed with his athleticism and instincts regardless of where the Wolverines lined up him.
Interesting choice. Here are his stats during his days as a Wolverine:
Clearly, Peppers is what you would call a “hybrid” player. He fits the mold of a strong safety, as he is a guy that makes a lot of tackles and can even come up and play the linebacker position. Another player that has become that type is Mark Barron, currently with the Los Angeles Rams, so there is a place for players of this caliber.
Here are some of his key strengths, courtesy of Erik Lambert from NFL Mocks:
- Athleticism and speed jump off the screen right away. Lots of range and tremendous as a kick and punt returner. Can also be utilized on offense as a running back.
- When he gets a bead on the ball he comes downhill hard and with authority. Mix of speed and size allow him to deliver some hard hits and make consistent plays in the backfield.
However, it’s not all rosy for Mr. Peppers. Here are a couple of his noted weaknesses:
- A classic elite athlete who is good at most positions but has failed to master any. Not a great running back or safety. Best plays have come in the return game.
- Bad habit of going for the shoulder hit rather than actually trying to wrap up. Has led to more than a few bad missed tackles.
We’ll talk about those, but let’s first look at some tape.
There is a lot to like here. Peppers is not a guy that receivers will enjoy going over the middle against, as he can deliver a blow. His pursuit of the ball is relentless and his motor cannot be stopped. He has good enough speed that he can chase guys down from behind, which isn’t all too common.
But he is clearly an “in the box” safety who doesn’t appear comfortable when out in coverage. Even on the tape, he was not fluid. The play may not have gone his way, but you could see him get turned the wrong way on more than one occasion. He just doesn’t have the same instincts in coverage as he does playing close to the line of scrimmage.
Being a hybrid simply makes Peppers a hard player to handicap, and it seems the experts agree. If you look at the NFL.com mock drafts right now, you will find Peppers going anywhere from high in the first round to not at all. That’s the difficulty with a player of this type. What position does he really fit into when he comes to the pros? It’s not the easiest question to answer. Barron took some time before he found his niche as a linebacker.
Would bringing Peppers in be a “bad” move? No, as it is clear the guy is talented. He would bring a presence to the Bucs secondary. The question is whether or not number 19 is the right spot. To me, they would be better served looking for an offensive weapon there. With players like O.J. Howard, Corey Davis and Mike Williams off of the board, a guy like John Ross is worth considering.
But, I don’t think anyone can be angry if Licht went this way. What do you think?