Making the Case for Jabrill Peppers as an NFL Running Back

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) runs the ball during the first half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

As Michigan Wolverines star Jabrill Peppers sets his sights for the NFL, some teams should at least consider turning the Heisman finalist into a full-time running back.

Michigan Wolverines star Jabrill Peppers is preparing for a thrilling Orange Bowl matchup against the Florida State Seminoles. As NFL draft scouts continue to evaluate Peppers, many are questioning what position the Michigan athlete will play in the NFL.

The general consensus is that Peppers will play safety at the pro level given his athleticism and instincts. However, Peppers continues to slide down draft boards after being a potential top-five pick considering the fact he’s never specialized at one position.

Peppers is still going to be a first-round pick. However, if the Michigan star slide into the middle of the first round or later, teams should seriously consider drafting him and moving him to running back.

I know that this might sound crazy to some, but there’s no denying that Peppers has the tools to make the move if a team asks him to. His versatility can be described best by this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info regarding the positions he played earlier this year against Michigan State.

Although Peppers has rarely lined up as a traditional running back in college, he has had his fair share of carries either as a wildcat QB or receiver running reverses. On 27 carries this season, Peppers has run the ball for 167 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per rushing attempt.

Coming in at 6’1” and 205 pounds, Peppers could stand to add a little weight as a potential NFL running back, but the frame and athleticism are definitely there. His speed and vision have also been on display all year returning punts and kicks, even finishing fourth in the nation with an average of 14.8 yards per punt return.

Let’s also not forget that Peppers was an absolutely dominant force at running back in high school.

There is now a precedent for players at other positions moving to running back and thriving thanks to the Green Bay Packers and Ty Montgomery. Coming into the season as a receiver, Montgomery has started to hit his stride as a full-time RB, averaging 6.0 yards per carry with 413 yards on just 69 attempts. Montgomery was particularly effective against the Chicago Bears, 16 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

Montgomery and Peppers have similar frames, although the Michigan star weighs a bit less. However, there’s no denying Peppers’ instincts and athleticism when the ball is in his hands, as he’s always a threat to find the end zone.

In all honesty, Peppers is almost a lock to play safety in the NFL. Even if a team were to consider drafting him as a running back, the fact of the matter is that this is one of the deepest RB classes in a while, and there are other prospects with plenty more experience at the position.

However, if Peppers somehow finds himself sliding down into the second or third round, some NFL team should seriously consider taking him and trying to turn him into one of the most exciting offensive weapons in football.

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