When the New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, the initial reaction was hostile even before seeing the underwhelming return. However, Big Blue gained defender Jabrill Peppers, a player that didn’t perform at an elite level in his first two NFL seasons.
But, there’s a reason to believe he’s going to elevate his game significantly in 2019. Playing in a James Bettcher defense, Peppers’ skill-set will be utilized to the max. He has stellar coverage abilities for strong safety, and he can also play the run very well.
How did Jabrill Peppers perform in his first New York Giants practice?
In his first OTA practice with the Giants, he recorded an interception and made a handle-full of impressive plays.
Sam Beal very active so far outside. Running with 1st team opposite Jackrabbit. Just showed good range, stuck with Cody Latimer and tipped an Eli Manning pass to Jabrill Peppers for INT in team 2-min drill. #OTA #NYGiants
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) May 20, 2019
After practice head coach Pat Shurmur spoke with the media, stating:
“Jabrill Peppers is super competitive. He loves football. He’s really good in coverage and had an interception already today.”
His diverse skill-set will allow him to play free safety, in the slot, and at the line of scrimmage. The Brown stuck him at free safety in his rookie season which did not end up well. He lacked productivity and didn’t shine as he once did in college for Michigan. He ranked as one of the worst free safeties in the league in 2017, but his efficiency sky-rocketed in 2018.
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Playing in a more “swiss army knife” role last year, he ranked as the #19 strong safety in the NFL, per PFF. He was above average in coverage and saw his total tackles jump from 57 to 79. He also recorded more passes defended (3 in 2017 and 5 in 2018).
Bettcher will utilize him in various different ways in the season ahead, and one part of his game that will stand out is his ability to pick up tight ends in coverage. The Giants have been historically bad at defending pass-catching tight ends, but Peppers should help in that department.
If he can harness his true potential, the Beckham trade might be worth it after all.