Super Bowl LI is in the rearview mirror, and that can only mean one thing: It’s NFL mock draft season.
With 71 days still remaining until the 2017 NFL Draft, pundits are left to speculate who will go where on April 27. In his first mock draft, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. had the New England Patriots selecting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the 32nd overall pick.
Kiper released his second mock draft Wednesday, and he has the Patriots going in quite a different direction — with Michigan linebacker/safety Jabrill Peppers.
“Peppers is still a bit of a mystery in terms of projection — teams are doing a lot of homework and trying to figure out how and where he’ll fit,” Kiper wrote on ESPN.com.
“But I know a good place to land for a player who can do just about anything but just needs a coaching staff who can be creative and use his instincts. (Michigan coach) Jim Harbaugh will be doing a lot of selling on Peppers’ behalf, and perhaps the Patriots will listen.”
This would be a bit of an off-the-board selection for New England, as head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t often go for a “sexy” pick like Peppers. Then again, Belichick loves players with versatility — especially on the defensive side of the ball — and Peppers has it in spades. According to Michigan, the 21-year-old New Jersey native played 15 different positions for the Wolverines last season, getting reps as a safety/linebacker on defense, a running back/wide receiver on offense and a dynamic returner on special teams.
Peppers could project as a hybrid safety with the Patriots, much in the mold of Patrick Chung. Or Belichick could look elsewhere to address a more pressing need. Perhaps we’ll get a better idea in the next round of mock drafts.
Thumbnail photo via Mike Carter/USA TODAY Sports Images