Two-year starter who finished fifth in Heisman Trophy balloting as a senior. Earned Consensus All-American honors in 2016 after making 71 tackles (15 for loss) with 3.5 sacks and an interception, rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries and returning a punt for a touchdown. First player in Big Ten history to win three individual awards (Defensive Player, Linebacker and Return Specialist of the Year). Received Second Team All-American recognition in 2015.
Dynamic athlete who impacts the game on defense, special teams and occasionally offense. Plays with a tough, nasty attitude, gives effort defending the run and shows speed moving in every direction. Explosive at the point of attack, displays terrific change of direction, sacrifices his body and flies around the action to make tackles. Hard hitter that consistently squares and wraps up ball carriers. Possesses tremendous recovery and closing speed and plays with a large degree of suddenness and agility. Occasionally lined up over the slot receiver and shows the ability to make plays in space. Above-average ball skills with game-breaking return skills who flashes ability as a ball carrier or pass catcher.
Gets mixed up in zone coverage and struggles with his reads on occasion. Does not play with balance or body control at running back. May be a scheme-specific player.
Peppers is all over draft boards, but his combination of athleticism, attitude and ability to impact games puts him high on our board. We like Peppers as a strong safety that can play over the slot receiver and return punts and kicks. Peppers offers tremendous upside and, if properly coached, will have a big-time NFL career.