Peppers to Pittsburgh?!
I got a push alert from NFL Mobile late last night that the Steelers could ultimately take University of Michigan’s Mr. do it all Jabrill Peppers in this year’s NFL draft. That immediately raised my eyebrows and peaked my interest, but knew better than to get too excited with it being seven weeks outside of the draft. Never really paying too much attention to the pre-draft speculations, this one took the cake, and I had to briefly dissect what could be. So here’s my short, sweet, and to the point observation on what Sundays at Heinz Field would look like if the Pittsburgh Steelers were to draft Jabrill Peppers with the 30th overall pick.
What the Steelers get:
First, bragging rights on being able to say they’ve selected the most athletic all around football player in the entire 2017 NFL draft.
2. A young stud who’s not going to tell Coach Tomlin, Keith Butler, or Todd Haley “no” when asked to play whatever position…even if it’s center (may be a stretch but hey, you get the point). This kid will try anything twice, just to say he did it, and in today’s evolving league, that’s not a bad trait to have.
A solid sound, and aggressive defensive back. Peppers has something that you just can’t coach. Physicality!, which is something that is still looking to be implemented into a young defensive unit, ESPECIALLY within the defensive backs. Whether he’s tasked with covering OBJ or taking on Gronk in the flats, my money is on Peppers to be able to cover ground and make the physical play on the ball.
Versatility. Put Peppers on defense, throw him at corner, safety, maybe a little outside action at linebacker. Want the ball in his hands? Let’s try him at slot, change of pace running back, heck, line him up in front of Bell and see what gets created. Let’s not forget special teams. Could you imagine what he could do with 20 yards of real estate in front of him?
What the Steelers won’t get:
The ball-hawking defensive back that the franchise has been waiting for since the departure of Troy Polamalu. The lack of college film of Peppers at safety doesn’t bother me nearly as much as his lack of interceptions (1 career int.). Don’t get me wrong, the kid is walking highlight reel offensively and defensively, but playing defense back in the NFL will require more than coverage and sound tackling, but also game changing abilities and plays, or interceptions.
Veteran leadership, something that the Steelers defense lacks, having only Harrison and Mike Mitchell (who at times preforms like a rookie) to look up to, but especially that defensive backs unit which is slowly progressing, but still very inexperienced.
Even though he packed on some muscle and lined up at linebacker at Michigan, he’s still not the Steelers much needed edge rusher.
They’d be window shopping taking Peppers first round. It’s cool to be that versatile guy who can play just about any position on both sides of the ball…in college. At the NFL level, nobody is going to have time to have tryouts to see where he best fits, so not having a solid set position (listed as a safety), could too work against him.
Looking at that one and only career interception while at Michigan will only leave General Manager Kevin Colbert and company to ask the question of, who can do it better? That would lead the team to look at other position standouts like safeties Malik Hooker (Ohio St.), Jamal Adams (LSU), or even Budda Baker (Washington).
Overall as a Michigan fan, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Steelers selected Peppers in the first round, but as a football lover and fan of the Steelers, business wise, the Steelers have to take care of business and address the necessary issues as they are presented, and right now, as hard as it is to say, the defensive back position is not the team’s top priority to address in the first round.