It’s hard to categorize someone as “under the radar” when your resume includes accomplishments such as No.1 ranked defensive college recruit in the nation by ESPN, former Heisman Trophy finalist and ex-NFL 1st-rounder.
However, in New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers’ case, that simply may be the best way to describe him. The Cleveland Browns traded Peppers to New York just two seasons after making him the 25th-overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. His first season with Big Blue was solid, yet unspectacular, ultimately ending on season-ending IR. While much of the offseason chatter in the Meadowlands has revolved around a fellow Giants safety, 2nd-round steal Xavier McKinney.
Yet, with a new coaching staff in town expected to cater to his skillset, Peppers may once again find himself at the center of attention.
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Jabrill Peppers Predicted to Have Career Year
John Schmeelk of Giants.com recently tried to pinpoint which Giants players will make a leap in 2020 during a Mailbag column. Schmeelk tossed around the names Will Hernandez, DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, among others. However, he ultimately landed on Peppers.
I am going to go with a player entering his fourth season: Jabrill Peppers, who has all the athletic ability in the world but has not fully realized his potential so far in his career. He was used in a myriad of ways by Gregg Williams in his two years with the Browns and was taken off the field too often. Last year, he had to learn a new system before injuring his back at the end of November.
I have faith that this coaching staff will be able to figure out a way to use him that allows him to be a playmaker in the run and pass games. I would expect to see him around the line of scrimmage more frequently. Peppers is a student of the game, and it is only a matter of time that shows up on the field, given his athleticism.
Jabrill Peppers’ Position Flexibility is Key
A major reasoning for Schmeelk’s decision to go with Peppers is due to the new coaching staff. Peppers is an uber-talented athlete who’s been misused plenty during his first three-NFL seasons. Namely in his rookie year where, despite finishing his collegiate career as a linebacker at Michigan, he was used predominantly as a deep safety. So deep, he was pretty much reading the quarterback’s eyes from the stands.
However, now entering his 4th-NFL season and primed to operate out of a multi-front scheme, Peppers may have finally found a place that will suit his particular skill set, which includes more snaps at linebacker, as noted by Schmeelk.
It will be interesting to see who earns the role of second nickel linebacker and stays on the field on most passing downs. It is possible they shift Peppers to linebacker and play Julian Love and Xavier McKinney at safety in those situations for a small nickel or big dime personnel group with three cornerbacks, three safeties, and one linebacker instead of a traditional 4-2-5 alignment. I’m curious to see how defensive coordinator Patrick Graham decides how to use this unique group of players.
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