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Breakfast: Bergen County's Jabrill Peppers

Posted Mar 7, 2017

This year, Brian Cushing’s rival high school, Paramus Catholic also has a top prospect entering the NFL Draft.

Less than five miles apart west of the Hudson River, sit two rival high schools in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Bergen Catholic High School’s most famous football star now wears No. 56 for the Houston Texans. This year, Brian Cushing’s rival high school, Paramus Catholic also has a top prospect entering the NFL Draft.

Jabrill Peppers was classified as a linebacker when he received his official invitation to the Combine, but sees himself playing safety in the NFL. In fact, he agreed to go through all the drills for linebackers as well as defensive backs.

"I was informed that since I was listed as a linebacker in college, that I had to only work out with the linebackers, so they were just going to make me do linebacker stuff," Peppers said Saturday at the NFL Combine. "So I asked if there was somehow, some way I could do the DB work, because that’s what I was doing all offseason and leading up to the Combine. I told my agents that and they made it happen, and they said the only way I can do it is if I do both. I was like, that’s easy. That’s no problem at all.”

At nearly 5-11 and 213 pounds, the Michigan product clocked a 4.46 40-yard dash, the fastest among linebackers. He also was a top performer in his position group with a 35.5-inch vertical jump and 128.0 broad jump. Peppers, who trained in San Diego in preparation for the draft process, hopes his versatility will intrigue teams. The 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist was named the 2016 Paul Hornug Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player.

Is he a linebacker? Is he a safety? Should he play offense as a running back, perhaps? He’s going to play defense, in some capacity, but if it weren’t for so many talented running back/offensive weapon prospects in this draft, I’d select him as a running back-receiver hybrid, ala Curtis Samuel (Ohio State). I’d put the ball in his hands 12-15 times a game. That’s what he’s best at doing, even though he’s garnered a ton of accolades as a defensive player. When he has the ball in his hands on a return, running with a direct snap or taking a handoff in the backfield, he’s dynamic. As a safety, he doesn’t do anything that others in this class can’t do. As a linebacker, he doesn’t thump as needed against the run. However, as a ball carrier, he’s electric and perhaps more valuable on that side of the ball.

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“I’m pretty much effective wherever I’m going to be put," Peppers said. "I don’t have a lot of tape at safety, but I’m a pretty damn good safety. I think a lot of teams notice that. They have the tape. They asked me for tapes of me playing corner, me playing some safety, but ultimately I hope a lot of questions are answered after this weekend.”

Peppers said teams even inquired about him playing slot receiver and running back, as well as his skills as a returner.

“It’ll be interesting,” Cushing said via NorthJersey.com. “I think it’s kind of different too, because he’s kind of a hybrid position, so to see where teams kind of peg him at, so just to see where he ends up.”

The 2017 NFL Draft takes place April 27 through 29 in Philadelphia.


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