As a former first-round Jabrill Peppers needs to become more of an impact player.
Unfortunately, he was miscast as a free safety during his rookie campaign, playing 20 yards off the line of scrimmage. Granted, it was out of need, but it wasn’t the role best suited for the Michigan product.
Things changed in 2018 with Peppers moving to strong safety.
Despite the switch that moved him closer to the line of scrimmage, his presence was often times not felt. Instead of being near the top of the team in tackles, Peppers had 30 fewer takedowns than the clubhouse leader, Jamie Collins.
There were times he flashed, like the time he sacked Case Keenum during the Browns’ Week 16 win against Denver (his only quarterback takedown of the season).
Peppers had two fumble recoveries and ended the season as Pro Football Focus’ 19th highest graded safety.
And for what it’s worth, the analytically oriented website spoke very highly of Peppers, stating he had a “breakout season.”
Analytics shouldn’t be a dirty word in Berea, but as someone who watched all the games, he still has a ton of room to grow.
Think of the way Troy Polamalu used to take over games for the Steelers. He was everywhere, tackling, forcing fumbles, and sacking the quarterback.
It’s unfair to make those comparisons, but you get the idea. As a first-round pick, the bar should be set higher for Peppers.