Will the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately draft Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft? It will be a little more than two weeks before we find out the answer to that question but according to one major media reporter, the Steelers really like the versatile player.
“I can tell you at that 30th pick, GM Kevin Colbert loves Jabrill Peppers,” Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reported Monday. “Will he actually be available, that of course will be the big question.”
Peppers, who had to play at linebacker in 2016 at Michigan due to team needs, has made it clear several times throughout the pre-draft process that he considers himself a safety. Last season he registered 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and one interception as a linebacker.
During his 2015 season as a defensive back, Peppers recorded 45 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and a career-high 10 defensed passes. However, it should be noted that his interception last season was the only one he recorded in the 27 games that he appeared in at Michigan.
At this year’s scouting combine, Peppers measured in at 5107, 213-pounds and he ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.46 seconds. While he is a very intriguing and versatile player, as he also returned punts and kickoffs at Michigan in addition to be used occasionally with success at running back, it’s really hard to envision him being the Steelers first-round selection this year based on his overall lack of experience at any one position at the college level.
While Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin both attended the Michigan pro-day this year, Peppers has yet to come to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit. While it’s not necessary for him to do so in order to be the Steelers first-round pick, as we have seen the last two years with cornerback Artie Burns and outside linebacker Bud Dupree, one would think that Peppers would likely need to visit with the team in Pittsburgh being as he’s coming out of college as a third-year sophomore.
If the Steelers do ultimately wind up drafting Peppers, one would think they would do so with the intention of playing him as a nickel-backer or slot cornerback in their sub-package defense as both starting safety spots are already spoken for.
Peppers has already been mocked to the Steelers in the first round by several major media draft analysts if you’re scoring at home.