Cowboys Draft Profile: Jabrill Peppers – Michigan

Could the do-it-all Heisman finalist be just what the Cowboys need on defense?

Nov 19, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Zander Diamont (12) is sacked by Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As we get closer to the NFL Draft, we are going to start breaking down individual draft prospects that we believe would make sense for the Cowboys with the 28th pick. They have the best offense in football but need all the help they can get on defense. With that in mind, the first player will be a defensive star from the University of Michigan.

Cowboys Prospect Profile: Jabrill Peppers – Michigan

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) attempts a pass as Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) defends during the second half at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Safety/Linebacker/Defensive Back

Size: 6-foot-1, 205 LBS

2016 Stats: 66 Tackles, 13 For Loss, 3 Sacks, 1 INT

Analysis: Jabrill Peppers is a versatile defensive playmaker that scouts are having a hard time figuring out where he should play in the NFL. He was a corner, a safety, a linebacker and a running back at times for U of M. He can rush the passer, he’s electric when returning, but his size restricts him to being a safety more likely than anything else in the pros.

While it’s generally viewed as a good thing to have defensive versatility, in Peppers’ case, some are holding it against him. He’s got speed, exceptional vision with the ball in his hands, but can he become a top-flight safety if asked to stay at that one position? I think so, and view him as a guy that could play free or strong side. Peppers is also a guy that you can bring up to the line of scrimmage and blitz.

Or you can move him around -dropping him in coverage when needed to try to confuse opposing quarterbacks. Yes, he is probably a safety, but as teams have done in nickel packages – like the Honey Badger over in Arizona — using a third safety/linebacker over the middle has proven effective.


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Why He Makes Sense For Dallas: There’s no guarantee the Cowboys will keep J.J. Wilcox, as Blogging the Boys pointed out a few days ago, which could open things up for another young piece on the back end like Peppers. It’s true the Cowboys secondary was better than we anticipated in 2016, and a pass rusher would certainly seem to be a bigger need than safety.

However, if you watched Peppers play, he was extremely effective when playing in that outside linebacker, pass-rusher spot. His 13 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks — in just a part-time role on the line of scrimmage last season — show he can be more than a safety in the NFL. Jabrill Peppers is tough to read but is certainly a defensive playmaker. He’s a 1st-round talent and if he falls into the Cowboys laps, they should seriously consider him.

-Stay tuned for more Draft Prospect Profiles and follow Matt @MattUrben88 on Twitter!

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