BEREA, Ohio -- When the Cleveland Browns turned in the card to Commissioner Roger Goodell to select former University of Michigan defender Jabrill Peppers with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the decision-makers felt the organization was getting far more than a safety.
To coach Hue Jackson, the Browns got a versatile player, one with a proven track record of helping in all three phases of the game, and he plans on putting that talent on the field a lot during the 2017 regular season.
“Every which way I can,” Jackson said of how he plans to use Peppers on offense.
In three years at Michigan, Peppers made 86 solo tackles and assisted on 33 other stops, including 18.5 for lost yardage with three sacks. Peppers intercepted one pass and defended 10 others in 12 games for the Wolverines during the 2016 season.
Coupled with his productivity, Peppers’ versatility made him an impactful player in all three phases of the game and led to him being a finalist in the voting for the 2016 Heisman Memorial Trophy, the biggest individual award in college football.
“In Gregg’s (Williams) system, we kind of deploy guys in a lot of different areas,” Jackson said. “He will do some of the similar things that he did at Michigan. He will do some new things for us being back there deep and playing in centerfield. I do not see a real difference for him from a defensive standpoint, at all.”
In addition to his defense and serving in multiple roles for the offense under coach Jim Harbaugh, which resulted in him gaining 167 yards and scoring three touchdowns on 27 carries, Peppers accounted for a combined total of 570 return yards, as well as one punt-return score last fall.
Over his three-year run at Michigan, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound native of East Orange, New Jersey, returned 18 kickoffs for 483 yards, an average of 17.9 per attempt, and 39 punts for 510 yards. Peppers averaged 25.8 yards per punt return as a junior.
And as far as overwhelming his rookie defender, Jackson is confident Peppers can handle the lofty expectations.
“How much can he handle? He is very smart, first off,” Jackson said. “He has been a sensational defensive addition for us. Very talented back there. Still growing. There are some things that he still has to learn, but we all know that he has had some skill on the offensive side of the ball. I do not see any reason why we would stop him from doing something that he may be very good at.”