Peppers’ draft stock is hardly red hot

Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) celebrates after sacking Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) during the second half of a college football game, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan defeated Michigan State 32-23. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Former Michigan star Jabrill Peppers tested positive for a diluted urine sample at the NFL Combine. How far should he drop in the draft?

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The story:

Jabrill Peppers is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft, which starts Thursday. At least, Peppers was thought to go that early, but Monday brought a double-shot of bad news that may result in some NFL teams passing on the Michigan star. First, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Peppers was flagged for a diluted urine sample, after he took his drug test at February’s NFL combine. That is tantamount to a failed drug test, and it could have some teams questioning his maturity and decision-making, if not his off-field proclivities.

A spokesman for Peppers:

“Peppers went to the combine. He was sick after flying there from San Diego. He has a history of cramping,” a spokesman for Creative Artists Agency, which represents Peppers, told Schefter. “Peppers was being pumped with fluids, drinking eight to 10 bottles of water before he went to bed, because he was the first guy to work out two days for the [linebackers] and [defensive backs]. He had to go through that first day, come back on second day, and that was the fear. So Peppers was pounding water and under the weather. He never failed a drug test in his life, nor tested positive before for any substance.”

Where Peppers sees himself in the NFL:

“Free or strong. I’m very fast, I’m stronger than the typical DB, tougher than the typical DB, since I played linebacker in the Big Ten at 200 pounds,” Peppers said in February. “So that’s anywhere from nickel, I can play some corner still. So we’ll see. It’s gonna be a fun process.”

Vinny Iyer from Sporting News:

That has been more the challenge in figuring out how Peppers, whose versatility made him a Heisman-caliber college football player, fits in the NFL. As a safety, his coverage skills need work to be trusted on the field in a regular role. As a linebacker, there’s concern if he can hold up against the every-down pounding of coming up to make tackles. That has Peppers’ NFL projection all over the board. Some see him as another Eric Weddle, the one-time Chargers second-rounder who defied his size (5-11, 195) and lack of true position to become a flat-out playmaker who’s still going strong at 32 with the Ravens. Others wonder if he can be Deone Bucannon, the Cardinals’  late first-round ‘tweener (6-1, 211) who transitioned from safety to statsheeet-stuffing “moneybacker.” Bucannon lasted to No. 27 overall in 2014; Weddle was the No. 37 pick in 2007. That’s recent enough history to think Peppers, at best, is looking that kind of selection range in 2017.

If Peppers goes in the first round:

Peppers’ first chance to go lies with Washington, which needs both safety and linebacker help at No. 17, but ironically, a simliar situation involving Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster may set up the Redskins to steal him. Tennessee, with Dick LeBeau, may be more in play at No. 18, but earlier at No. 5, LSU’s Jamal Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker is a much better safety pick for the Titans’ defense. Houston at No. 25 could experiment well with Peppers’ uniqueness because of Romeo Crennel, but quarterback and offensive line have become more pressing needs to be able to afford that luxury. Green Bay, at No. 29, is in good shape at safety for the short term, so it’s starting to look more at cornerback value. That probably leaves Pittsburgh, at No. 30, as Peppers’ best chance to stay in the first round. With how well the Steelers have picked early to rebuild their defense in recent drafts, they’re in position to take Peppers to be a situational player initially.

What do people think?:

Current Michigan Assistant Coach:

“Jabrill is someone who, even through college, had to be pumping fluids into him nonstop,” Partridge said. “He constantly had those issues cramping up even going back to PC. So this is something he’s always done, I know that for a fact. He’s kind of had these issues his whole life, so obviously I think he’d be drinking a lot of fluids before any athletic event. He’s been doing it that way for the last six years.”

What do you think? How far should he drop?

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