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Bleacher Report – Vikings

NFL Draft buzz: Mel Kiper says Jabrill Peppers could drop into the second round

By Matthew Coller

Minnesota Vikings fans can attest to the bizarre nature of the month leading up to the NFL Draft. After all, Teddy Bridgewater went from likely top pick to No. 32 overall because of a bad pro day.

Well, the draft stock for one of the most intriguing players in the draft, Michigan safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers, has sunk since the NFL Combine as more and more questions emerge about where he projects as an NFL player.

In ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, he has Peppers going No. 28 overall to the Dallas Cowboys – a significant drop from his first mock back in June in which he projected the Michigan star being selected 16th overall by Baltimore.

“[He is] the wild card in this draft,” Kiper said on ESPN. “You could put him mid-first, late-first or drop him into the second round. I think he goes late-first because he’s an explosive athlete, tremendous versatility, he’s a great return man.”

Peppers played all over the field in Michigan’s defense, which has made him difficult to evaluate. He picked up an impressive 13 tackles for loss last season but only grabbed one interception and was not credited with a forced fumble during his entire Wolverine career.

There has been plenty of debate over where he might fit in. At 5-foot-11, 215-pounds, it’s hard to see him as a linebacker, but without top notch coverage skills, Peppers might not be much more than a sub-package player.

Kiper’s draft-analysis cohort Todd McShay talked on a conference call about where Peppers might fit in.

“I thought he could be a (Arizona Cardinals linebacker) Deone Bucannon for a while, but the more I studied their tape, he’s just not as physical or as strong as Bucannon. I don’t know that he can move inside,” McShay said.

“Now we’re talking about a guy that can play nickel, outside the box and then has to hold up in coverage more, in terms of deep coverage, and I thought he struggled when he was forced to quickly turn and run, change direction, those sort of things. He’s fast on a straight line and he can make up some ground. But he’s really grabby and handsy and he really has to hold on to tight ends and backs that he’s covering. You can get away with it in college when the ball’s not in the air – you can’t in the NFL. So I think he has a lot of developing to do.”

Some reports have citing scouts who suggest that Peppers switch to offense because he runs a 4.46 40-yard dash and is an excellent kick returner.

It seems like a long shot, but if the New Jersey native happened to be available when the Vikings pick at 48, there’s a possibility Minnesota would be interested. While neither cornerback, safety or linebacker are positions of great priority, Peppers’ versatility could make him an interesting option, especially with the loss of Captain Munnerlyn and the increase in nickel packages.

The post NFL Draft buzz: Mel Kiper says Jabrill Peppers could drop into the second round appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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