CBS Sports 2017 Mock Draft: Steelers Select LB/S Jabrill Peppers In First Round

Back to hitting the mock draft circuit during this dead zone of the offseason, the time after all the football has been played and prior to free agency. Focusing on mocks that have the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting players we haven’t highlighted before, today’s CBS’ mock draft by Dane Brugler has the team going in a new direction. He has them selecting Michigan hybrid player Jabrill Peppers 30th overall.

His explanation.

“Pittsburgh hasn’t been able to properly replace the hole left by Troy Polamalu at strong safety and although Peppers isn’t on that level, he has intriguing blend of athleticism and physicality.”

That analysis is pretty wonky considering the team just drafted strong safety Sean Davis last year, who enjoyed a promising and improving rookie campaign. Leaning away from that defense, the Peppers’ selection does make a level of sense.

The Steelers have clearly tried to use a dime defense for the last two seasons; late in 2015, early in 2016, to middling success. Peppers could be the answer in that role, playing alongside Davis, not replacing him.

Last season, Peppers recorded 66 tackles, 13 for a loss, with three sacks and an interception. He was a multi-purpose threat, returning kicks and punts and playing running back on offense, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

If you’re wondering, OLBs Haason Reddick and Carl Lawson were off the board by the Steelers’ selection. Reddick seemingly continues to “rise,” going 24th in this edition, and we haven’t even hit the Combine yet.

If the Steelers go in a direction other than outside linebacker, a position, and a player, like Peppers would be very interesting.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Luke

    Reminds me a lot of Tyrann Mathieu. Dude is just a straight up football player. I think he will have a very successful career if his smaller frame can hold up.

  • Rotten Sircus

    Peppers is too small to play LB in the NFL. I like him at Safety but I think the Steelers are going to go DL or OLB with our first round pick !!!

  • Consistent

    Alex is right for calling dude out bout the Safety position,Davis seems ultra promising right now but Peppers would be intriguing. I don’t know if he’s got the Honey Badger’s natural defensive prowess but mixed w/our defense it may be scary to gameplan against us at times

  • John Mazza

    hes about the same size as troy. not sure if he can play free safety or maybe have Davis flip to FS. could be that hybrid guy that could play on 3rd downs if timmons is there or not

  • Consistent

    I do have a question Alex,if Peppers is added to the mix and plays Dime,who’s coming off the field?

  • Alex Kozora

    Timmons.

  • ilamarca

    I actually like Peppers a lot. Hopefully hes more Polamalu than Taylor Mays, and I think Matheu may be a good comparison. I think we could certainly find a spot for him.

  • Consistent

    I love Timmons but I worry when he’s playing Dime,this pick would be an instant change to that alone so I’m kinda for it…if he’s Best Available at the time

  • Big Joe

    While I think it would be a solid pick, I truly don’t think he’ll be around at 30. Stranger things have happened though.

  • Big Joe

    Agreed. It would allow Davis and Gay to roam the slot while Cockrell and Burns are supported by 2 safeties

  • WreckIess

    Love Peppers, but I’m not interested in using the first on a guy who’ll be strictly a role player.

  • T3xassteelers

    I told someone on here I thought he was overrated but the more I think about how we could use him and the potential he has, the more I’d love this pick. He could also be our KR/PR too, right?

  • unfurious

    I have to admit that I’ve toyed with a few mocks that start with Peppers and then Adoree Jackson in the second. 2 guys that can compete and pay immediate dividends on kick and punt returns while they find their places on the team and develop into rock stars. If they are BPsA, I’d be ecstatic about one or both.

  • PaeperCup

    Where do we put him?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Dl would be a wasted pick.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    I’d rather have reddick than peppers.

  • Steelers12

    he is so intriguing but is he boom or bust

  • nikgreene

    I wonder if the Steelers had a player like Peppers, who fits the LB/S hybrid position that is becoming a bit more common in the NFL, would they play more dime defense? Could Peppers play the other LB spot next to Shazier in the nickel?
    Alex, do you have numbers on what %’s the Steelers played base, nickel, dime, etc. last year?

  • I agree with you, Alex. The rationale itself is misguided, as it often is from these national analysts, but I’ve long been in favour of the Steelers drafting a hybrid LB/S. (I was high on Cash last year.) The question is, would/should they go there in the first round? I’d say no if a suitable edge rusher is available, but it would appear some of them are moving up draft boards (well, analysts’ draft boards, which we know are rather different than teams’ draft boards). But I’d say yes if it’s a BPA / special player situation.

    The fact is, there just aren’t many holes on this team, including on D. Edge rusher is the obvious pick, but maybe they go there in free agency (unlikely) and/or maybe they decide it’s a deep enough class to take one in the second or third round. When you’re drafting 30th, I think you have to keep your options open even more than usual.

  • Alex Kozora

    64.9% nickel
    28.3% base
    5.5% dime

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    He’s 6’1 205 lol

  • Douglas Andrews

    I’m warming up to this guy. He’s kind of a do it all offense defense and special teams. I’d welcome the pick.

  • Douglas Andrews

    That really makes the pick appealing to me. Love Timmons but this is an instant upgrade in coverage by adding speed/coverage ability along with another good tackler. Steelers got to fix getting off the field on 3rd down issues. Peppers can help

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Idk if I’d pick him 30th personally, it’s up in the air, but I would like the pick regardless.

  • unfurious

    As a bust, he should still be a great punt returner. To me that still holds value. The catch for me, is that on D, he may need to be a wildcard kind of player. Right now, I believe that guy is Shazier. Two guys freelancing is too many.

  • Trap

    I would take him in a heart beat

  • NinjaMountie

    If he was picked, could he role play for a year and then replace start at safety next to Davis and let Mitchell go?
    I watched A LOT of Michigan football and I always liked this kid despite his lack of ints.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    That was me. Lol. He has too much value not to pick. Could he not playitchell’s spot??? He is 20 pounfs lighter than Lavonte David, who is a stud. There will be no worthy olb at 30.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    He just passes the eye test and is a competitor.

  • Matt Manzo

    That’s what I’ve been thinking! Davis has enough free safety in him to make it work.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Mitchell is horrible. Darrin Perry II

  • Matt Manzo

    If Reddick and Lawson are off the board, I like this pick! He would strengthen a few positions.
    But I’ve been scouting so many 1st round edge rushers, which edge guys would we target in 2?
    Walker, Smoot?

  • popsiclesticks

    I think he’s like Tyrann Mathieu minus the good parts. I hate this guy as a first rounder.

    Mathieu was the living embodiment of a turnover. I’m not sure Peppers even knows what a turnover is.

  • popsiclesticks

    This guy and Taco Charlton are probably my two least favorite late first round prospects, and it has nothing to do with Michigan. Man I would hate this guy in the first. He can miss tackles from so many different positions. This is a guy who was moved to LB because he couldn’t really cover that well and we’re gonna put him in the NFL and ask him to cover NFL guys or throw a 200 lb ILB out there? I don’t see it.

    EDIT: I’d try and make him into Percy Harvin before even trying him on defense, but that ship has probably sailed.

  • Dshoff

    I used to think that there aren’t many holes on this team, but when I started thinking about need, I thought OLB, TE…CB (with Gilbert gone and Gay declining)… WR (Bryant? and Coates hand), dang that’s more need than I thought.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    One of them will be great. With names like those, how could they not?

  • Dshoff

    Mckinley, Harris. I’d just love to get Walker in the 3rd. Last time I looked some people had him projected in the 4th.

  • T3xassteelers

    Yeah, sorry about that haha. At 30… yeah, that’d be GREAT value and I’d love to have him here. He’d be a new toy with TONS of potential cause he is a freak of nature. Could play safety… Could play LB like as you said, David, is. Hell, maybe he can play some WR (like this past season would have been nice to have someone like that, lol)

  • Dshoff

    Alex, If we only played 5.5% dime defense, wouldn’t a 1st rnd pick be a HUGE investment if he only played in the dime? Even if getting him meant we played the dime 15% of the time, I don’t know if it would be worth it. Plus, why do we keep Timmons on the field in passing situations anyways? Why wouldn’t we just put another cb out there?

  • That’s a good point, and I guess I should qualify. What I mean it, there aren’t many holes where an urgent starter is needed. Perhaps OLB, but I’m fine with Harrison, Dupree, and 1-2 draft picks slotting in behind them (and maybe a mid-range FA). I’d be fine going TE in the first few rounds, but Green and James make for a good tandem (assuming Green is healthy again). And I’m also fine with Burns and Cockrell on the outside at CB with Golson and Gay competing for the slot, with a draft pick and/or FA providing depth. Same with WR — a lot depends on Bryant, of course. So sure, these are holes, and both the draft and free agency will help fill them, but if there’s no obvious edge rusher to take in the first then going for a hybrid guy who could play in the dime and/or spell Davis and/or be used on some creative way might be the way to go. But if it’s not in the first, I do think hybrids should be on the Steelers’ radar anyway. Particularly because they don’t have a clear spot to fill, there’s often good value to be found, not to mention loads of talent.

  • Tim Goetz

    Would rather have Budda Baker

  • Sdale

    Well, role player this year, but eventual starter after Mitchell’s contract? I’d rather have an OLB, but an OLB will be a back-up for the first half anyway, so they would have less initial impact next season than Peppers.

  • Sdale

    Yeah, I think most everyone is thinking that way, but in this mock, Reddick was already taken.

  • Sdale

    Mitchell couldn’t hold Perry’s jock strap 🙂

  • Brian Tollini

    ask and ye shall receive

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Vincenzo could start and peppers could play on 3rd and long and other nickel situations. You no longer need Timmons. If he is capable he would get starter snaps really. 3rd safety or LB whatever. If he is as good as advertised and available it’s possible.

    They would have to convinced that OLB is really deep and they can still get a good one in the 2nd round.

  • Dshoff

    Alex, I just saw a mock having us taking cb Teez Tabor. I checked out his highlights and he looks REALLY good. Would you think about taking him if the edge guy we want wasn’t there?

  • capehouse

    I’d rather select Derek Rivers or Tim Williams in that scenario.

  • Alex Kozora

    Chicken and an egg thing. Not playing much dime because they haven’t found a guy who can do it. But they’ve tried.

  • Alex Kozora

    Not opposed to it though I’d ask we all look at more than just a highlight reel.

  • muddslinger

    Remember fellas, the Steelers like to take younger players early in the draft, if possible! Peppers is a Rso. He’s the type of player they can develop! I don’t think he falls to 30, but he is an option!

  • Steelers12

    i want more than a great punt returner in a first round pick

  • muddslinger

    I like TJ Watt!

  • Aj Gentile

    I rather have Quincy Wilson or Charles Harris in this draft

  • WreckIess

    He’s not a free safety type. His role would be almost strictly Dime and some packages where he spells Timmons. An OLB would split snaps with Harrison and would actually have a shot to become a starter as the season progresses. Peppers won’t play over Davis.

  • lonnie

    Didn’t like the idea at first but it’s growing on me for the simple fact it would be like getting three players with one pick. Play him at safety, special teamer as a punt and kickoff returner and he could be a back up RB. Now that’s value.

  • Jaybird

    Perry was a good football player, way better than Mitchell.

  • unfurious

    Oh me too.. I’m just saying that having a bankable skill at a special teams position we really need helps lessen the overall impact if he is a bust on D. It raises his floor. And then his ceiling is a devastating playmaker both on D and at PR as well.

  • Steelers12

    o ok i gotcha

  • Spencer Krick

    Can he play the slot?

  • Josh Gustad

    I definitely think this guy’s work ethic will prevent him from failing in the NFL. The guy has a likable personality and appears to have the “it” factor people are always talking about.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Dane Brugler is right on the money with his assessment.

  • Petherson Silveira

    I mocked him yesterday, coz he fell to me and a lot of edge rushers that i liked were took before me. I ended up with Pappers, T.J Watt, Derek Rivers and Corey Clement. I think i can live with that. LOL
    I used: CBS big borad with Fanspeak needs.

  • Shane Mitchell

    He would be our starting SS

  • Shannon Stephenson

    He just did not pop out on tape to me although tweeners do intrigue me for us…the Haasan Reddicks, Jamal Adams, ect. I could see him being drafted by us although I personally do not like him in the 1st.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    that has been my thought process….get a tweener S/LB type and he plays 2nd and long and 3rd down and allow VW to play on running downs.

  • WreckIess

    Over our Rookie of the Year from last season?

  • Shane Mitchell

    Rookie of the year is voted and decided by local media, usually the dummies just vote for whoever got the most playing time, they know nothing about the game.

  • SnoopDogg123

    I heard Peppers on the Dan Patrick Show say he’s really only about 5’10” – 5’11” and weighs around 190 lbs. Not that it matters, but those measurements you’re referring too aren’t confirmed measurements.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Wouldn’t be surprised but he’s no shrimp.

  • I hope it doesn’t play out that way. He’s an intriguing athlete but I just don’t see enough to warrant the 1st round pick unless a lot of other needs are off the board.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I am extremely intrigued by the prospect of Peppers. I’m usually a “needs” drafted guy, so picking him, especially in the 1st, but not having a clear spot for him already chiseled out, makes me nervous and twitchy. But I do love his versatility. And I HAVE been thinking about how nice and fun it would be to have a rover/tweener. I’m going to be studying this guy pretty hard. I HATE Michigan on the college level, so I tend to turn away when they are on the ol’ tube. But I respect their programs and know that they can produce some really good prospects every once in a while.

    There was quite a bit of hype about Peppers. I have a handful of friends and family that are Wolverine fans and they all really loved this kid. I’m thinking our needs are too great at other positions to pull the trigger on someone like this, BUT… picking 30th means you kinda have to gamble. And depending on who else is stolen before us, (looking squarely at you Cincinnati), I think Peppers could be that real surprise type of option. He’s now on my radar.

  • WreckIess

    They usually vote for the guy with the most PT because there’s no competition. This year was a lot different.

    He didn’t even play the most this season, Artie did. He won because he was one of the best young safeties in the league last season. He even made NFL. Com’s all rookie team because of his play.

    Peppers is in no way, shape, or form better than Davis is. Not even close. He was great at Michigan because he could play a lot of positions, but as a safety He really wasn’t that great. A safety needy team can develop him into a great safety, but we aren’t a safety needy team.

  • Ryan Alderman

    No, I think if that’s true it most definitely matters if you’re planning on playing safety at the pro level. Troy was what, 5’10”, 205-210 with blazing closing speed and unteachable instincts? Using him as the benchmark in which most all safeties should be judged, this other fellow and his supposed smallish frame got some work to do.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Our safety play was among the worst in the league and Sean Davis isnt close to being one of the best safeties in the league. Sorry

  • WreckIess

    It really wasn’t. I also didn’t say he was one of the best in the league. I said he was one of the best YOUNG safeties in the league. There’s a difference. He’s not perfect, but what rookie is? He developed as the year went on and became a weapon on defense.

  • LucasY59

    I think if they had a good/great Dime guy it could be 50% of the snaps, and possibly even more, with the way the Offenses are changing the Defenses have to evolve and the S/LB Hybrid is the position every team is going to want to have in the future (kinda like all the offenses want a athletic TE right now)

  • Smitty 6788

    Would have zero problems with this pick. Love Peppers

  • LucasY59

    early in the yr I was really interested in Peppers and thought if would be great if the Steelers were able to get him he could be the difference maker the D needs in the Secondary, then I kinda changed my mind when he didnt have any Ints and really didnt stick out/make plays in pass coverage, seemed like he was just a “in the box” guy. but was a little bit undersized to be a true S/LB hybrid (IF his listed 6’1″ 205lbs is true, he would just barely be big enough to play LB, so if he is actually smaller (which is probably the case) they would have to be careful when/were they used him

    as far as already having a SS, yes Davis played SS last yr and looks to be a good player at that position, BUT I think he could do just as well at FS (he actually reminds me more of a Ryan Clark FS than a SS anyway, its just Mitchell is there now…) I dont see Mitchell as a long term guy on this D, he will play 2017 and then 2018 is the final of his contract, which I dont see him getting another deal after (even if its a cheap veteran one)

    SO this yr Mitchell plays FS, Davis plays SS and IF the Steelers picked Peppers he could be a Dime/Hybrid guy (Jabrill needs to develop some on his pass coverage, so not rushing into a full time starter position might be very good for him, he is a young player and never had a permanent position for most of his time playing football (so far) let him start to specialize in one area and I think he could turn into something special

    next yr Davis could move to FS (its not that different in the Steelers D, so it should be an easy transition to him, especially since he will have 2 yrs to learn the D, and part of being a good Safety is knowing what the other guys in the secondary are doing (especially the other Safety) so Sean should have no problem) and Peppers could be the SS (I see him more as the Troy to Davis’ Clark) and Mitchell could be the Dime guy (in his final yr of his contract where they could just cut him if they wanted and save cap space also)

  • Shane Mitchell

    Is that right, a weapon???? LMFAO, yeah great weapon alright watching his pansy ass getting stiff armed trying to tackle a 180 lb former QB playing WR in the AFCCG, some weapon, save the BS hype for someone else, unless you got some gamefilm to show me great plays??? Do You?? I can guess right now what you consider great plays, a blitz called with perfect timing so the RB runs right into it, am I right??, a stop at the goal line of a back up QB trying to scramble for a TD? LMAO a QB??? seemingly getting beat for a TD but diving and luckily getting a hand in to knock the ball loose, a play that was basically pure luck and would be a TD 99 out of 100 times, because he was beat on the play???? that was probably one of your favorites, huh?

    Our safety play was horrible all year long, do I really have to do a breakdown of some all-22 film to show you a bunch of missed tackles, blown assignments, not taking on blocks, not making proper reads, poor field awareness, guessing pre snap instead of making a read, taking bad angles and not playing aggressive?

    OUR SAFETIES HAD ALMOST 50 MISSED TACKLES COMBINED AND A WHOPPING 2 INTS , WHAT PART OF THIS DONT YOU UNDERSTAND?

    Best thing that could happen to the team is if both players decide to quit the game before the draft and free agency period starts.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Some more BS, how about we put them all on the field and the best player plays, what do you think about that scenario, son? Before you go setting the depth chart and positions before a player is even on the damn team and competes. Joke

  • Dshoff

    But Ayers was the best punt returner coming out of college last year, wasn’t he? I thought I heard that.

  • Dshoff

    I wish I had more time to do that! That’s why I asked for your well infomed opinion. You always do such a great job with this stuff.

  • WreckIess

    I remember you. You’re the same clown that said we needed to bench Davis in week 2 and when I said they should let him grow you replied with ” You can’t grow guys in the secondary”. LOL. Yeah. That was really dumb my dude. Glad to see you’ve taken a fair and impartial view on him. I can see this has you emotional which makes it even more sad that you’re wrong. You care so much about this, but you’re just …wrong.

    First off, if you’re talking about Edelman, he’s not 180 (not that that matters honestly) he’s been 200 since he came in the league. He’s also proven to be one of the best slot receivers in the league so pretending he’s just some nobody former QB shows that football iq, kid.

    You’re right about one thing though. The pass break up against the Ravens (the one that kept the game within reach) was pretty great. As was the one he made against the Chiefs to stop them from tying the game up. He has made some pretty great plays in a short career, but he’s only a rookie so he’ll improve and make more big plays(shocker. I know) . His run defense also improved as the season went on. He just overall became a better player. I don’t know why that has you tearing up, but it’s reality.

    If you want to see tape on it there are breakdowns on this site. BT SC also has some. If you want to show me how terrible of a player Sean Davis is then go right ahead and upload some gifs there when you calm down and take a breather. You can make all the posts you want there with lots of question marks and cap locked rants. I promise.

    Also, Alex’s missed tackle numbers are not the gospel. He includes pretty much any time a player makes even the faintest attempt at a tackle. They’re somewhat accurate, but at the end of the day they’re opinionated not fact. The two ints are an issue, but you’re acting like there is absolutely no way he could ever get better (because for some reason guys don’t grow in the secondary, right?).

    Yeah the best thing for the team would be for their starting safeties to just retire. Come on dude.

  • WreckIess

    Are you really this stupid? Do you honestly think for a second that if by some miracle they actually drafted him that he would actually start over Davis? I get that you have some irrational hate for the guy, but get real. Get it through your thick skull that he’s going to be the starting Safety next season and stop crying about it.

  • MC

    We will never know what kick/punt returning potential he has in the NFL if Danny Smith remains our ST coach.

  • Charles Haines

    Where’s the production? One interception in 27 games? Pass.

  • LucasY59

    I could see Tomlin & Colbert becoming infatuated with Peppers if he runs 4.3s at the combine and they see him as a Elite athlete (but blowing up the combine could boost his stock back out of reach of the Steelers pick)

    I dont think of Peppers as a main target for the Steelers, but he could definitely be a good alternate, and I would prefer him instead of reaching for a OLB that is not worth the 1st pick

  • mokhkw

    Shaq Lawson-Sua Cravens-Taylor Mays-Mark Barron.

    All four are similar to Peppers but none have made the impact people thought they would. I’m not sure I would pick him at #62, let alone #30. Like Lawson he may be better suited to playing offense.

    & no-one will ever replace Troy.

  • SilverSteel

    I understand your frustration, but Davis improved every game and was turning into a future star the way I see it. Davis is so athletic and smart. Most of his bad plays were at the beginning of the year. His ceiling is off the charts. Being a rookie, he did really well from what I saw. I would like to see a Davis – Peppers tandem. I think Mitchell is wrapping up his career (at least with us) so Peppers would be a role player (Dime, KR, Offense, depth at SS and FS, LB) and be groomed for Safety until Mitchell is gone then Davis plays FS and Peppers plays SS. just my 2 cents,..

  • BlakeL

    Peppers would be a nice luxury pick for a team like New England. I feel we have too many needs on defense to take a player like him with our first round pick. Also, his only turnover in 3 years was on a deflected pass, which scares me. If he actually is 6’1, 205lbs, I would take a chance on him in the 2nd round based on his explosiveness. He can be a great returner/dime defender/possible offensive weapon in the right situation but shouldn’t be pigeon-holed to one position in the pros.

  • Mark Lohn

    He is an interesting athlete and if he is still there, not sure how you pass him up. The game is becoming a game of hybrids, and that is what he is.

  • unfurious

    I don’t know about best, but he was really good. For some reason he has had zero shot to prove himself.

  • unfurious

    Actually, the KC game last year has taught me that PIT needs to put some starters on ST units. They looked awesome in coverage. Same may be true for return teams as well. I don’t think that Smith has a say in that.

  • TV JUMPER

    Exactly @Ryan and @sun
    Troy had the same measurements as peppers. He grew into that 205lbs. His iQ helped him more than anything. Yes,he was blazing fast but aren’t a lot guys who never pan out? Peppers will be great for us. If he lasts that long. I absolutely hate our pick this year.

  • TV JUMPER

    I am a Michigan fan. He played very thing for us. And had the iQ to do so at a high level. I hope they keep talking about his size so he falls to us. But there is no way he does. There are a few CB happy teams before us. They pick CBs just bc they can with no actual need for one.

  • Ryan Alderman

    No kidding, Troy was 190ish coming out? Learn something new every day. I think what set Troy apart were his amazing instincts, work ethic, and just that flash to the ball he had. When it was time to make the play, he almost always made it. I miss that guy a lot!

  • falconsaftey43

    Think you mean Shaq Thompson. I agree to a point, except I think Barron has become a good player and Cravens had a very good rookie year. None of them are “impact” players IMO though. Peppers seems to have great athletic ability and he tackles pretty well. He even sticks with guys is coverage well, just has zero ability to locate the ball in coverage. I’m not a big fan.

  • capehouse

    Or a CB.