NFL Draft 2017: Browns go all-in on Jabrill Peppers, and it will pay off

Cleveland landed a football player in Jabrill Peppers, a somewhat risky first-round pick that could pay off later.

The Browns landed a good football player in Jabrill Peppers.

Peppers has to be good; Cleveland is full of Ohio State fans, and now they will have to root for the former Michigan standout and Heisman Trophy finalist. Peppers has to be better than good to meet their standard.

That's the least worrisome part about this risky pick for the Browns. Peppers tested positive for a dilute sample at the NFL Combine, and he's one of the most polarizing player in this draft. He projects to play safety in the NFL, but there are questions about his coverage skills.

MORE: Will Peppers boom or bust in NFL?

Cleveland, however, knows what they are getting here: a football player. Peppers has been saying that all along, even if it's become more of an unnecessary self-defense through the process.

"I'm a tenacious defender. I'm a guy who’s a competitor. I'm going to out-compete and out-challenge," he said via Browns.com . "That's what I am going to continue and want to continue to do once I get to the league. People can speculate on what they want to speculate on, but at the end, of the day I'm a ball player.


MORE: NFL Draft game heats up between OSU, Michigan

Forget about all the positions Peppers played in college, and the attention that garnered . The reason Peppers was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season is he was one of the best football players in college. That's easy to see on film. He might even get a shot for a few snaps on offense.

"I'm open to do whatever they ask me to do," Peppers said. "I did some things that nobody else did. They are going to get 200 percent out of me. I'm just so excited for the opportunity."

The Browns gave new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams the best pass-rusher in the NFL Draft in Myles Garrett, and complemented that with the best all-around player in college football last season. That's a hell of a 1-2 punch.

Peppers is a playmaker, and he could do it anywhere on the field. He had 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and four sacks while playing as an undersized linebacker at Michigan. He can play cornerback, nickel back and safety, and can add value in the return game. Peppers' coverage skills will be the determining factor with this pick, and he'll be propped up against Ohio State's Malik Hooker, who went 10 picks earlier to the Colts.

That's the natural comparison that has been going on since last season betweeen the two fan-bases.

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Peppers, however, plays with a style that is easy to appreciate — and will benefit a secondary that features Joe Haden. If Peppers avoids further failed tests and proves his worth in coverage at safety, then this could be a first-round steal for Cleveland.

How should you evaluate Peppers? As a sophomore, he was the best player on the field in every game except for Ohio State. As a junior, he earned consensus All-American honors playing out of position. The hype machine spun out of control, but that tends to happen with any player who plays multiple positions. Peppers played double-digit positions. He might even get a shot for a few snaps on offense.

"I'm open to do whatever they ask me to do," Peppers said. "I did some things that nobody else did. They are going to get 200 percent out of me. I'm just so excited for the opportunity."

As for the Michigan guy playing in Ohio factor? This is the sixth time the Browns have spent a first-round pick on a former Wolverines player. Braylon Edwards did not work out. Steve Everitt did. It's also worth knowing that Thom Darden, the franchise's all-time leader in interceptions — and a first-round pick in 1972 — played at Michigan, too.

The die-hard Cleveland fans will appreciate that statistic.

They'll appreciate Peppers, too. He'll be good for the Browns.


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