Jabrill Peppers' stock in the NFL draft will depend a lot on which position NFL clubs project him to play, and whether or not the versatile former Michigan star's skill set is a proper fit for their defenses. But there is no hesitation on the part of NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock -- he thinks very highly of Peppers' draft value, higher than most.
"I love the kid. I think he's a top-10 pick," Mayock said Friday on NFL Network from UM's pro day workout. "I might be in the minority, but he's a football player and a dynamic returner."
Peppers won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player last year, playing linebacker for the Wolverines after spending the previous season playing in the secondary. Add in his return exploits and spot duty on offense at Michigan, and you have a level of versatility that, for NFL scouts, is both attractive and a challenging evaluation at the same time. Among five NFL.com analysts who have published mock drafts, Peppers is projected no higher than No. 17 overall to the Washington Redskins.
Peppers went through positional drills only on Friday for his pro day workout.
"People wanted to see two things. One, can he open his hips and drive to a deep third or to a deep half, track and catch the football? His hips are outstanding," Mayock added. "There is no problem driving to the deep third, the deep half, making a cut to get back to the football. The (other) issue was, and there is some conversation about it in NFL circles: does he catch the ball on defense as well as he does on offense? He had two more drops today on deep balls. He only had one interception in his career -- that will continue to be a question."
Mayock named Peppers the No. 1-ranked safety in the draft in his most recent positional rankings, ahead of LSU's Jamal Adams and Ohio State's Malik Hooker.