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What Is Jabrill Peppers' NFL Position?


INDIANAPOLIS -- While John Ross was setting a Combine record in the 40-yard dash on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, the potential top two picks in the NFL Draft were on center stage for the media - defensive end Myles Garrett and defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. Also find out more about the bizarre Reuben Foster incident, and what position will Jabrill Peppers play at the next level.

1. Peppers: I'm A Hell Of A Ballplayer

Jabrill Peppers was Mr. Everything at Michigan. He could blitz, cover, and tackle on defense. He was a playmaker on offense.

While that's great in college, NFL teams want to know exactly does a player fit in.

Peppers was listed as a linebacker, but showed up at the Combine at 5-10, 213 pounds - way under the averages for an outside linebacker. Peppers made it clear from the jump where he envisions himself.

"What do I look like? I'm safety. I'm a safety. Yes, I'm a safety," Peppers said.

Peppers was told that since he was listed as a linebacker at Michigan he had to do linebacker drills. He expressed interest in working with the defensive backs, so he will do position drills at both positions.

"I'm a hell of a ballplayer," Peppers said. "I don't have a lot of tape at safety, but I'm a pretty damn good safety and I think a lot of teams notice that."

He's not the first player to be caught between linebacker and defensive back. In recent years, players like Arizona's Deone Bucannon and Carolina's Shaq Thompson offered unique size/athletic profiles. But Peppers models his game after All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, making it quite clear where he thinks he fits in at the NFL level.

2. College Teammate Disappointed In Foster

Linebacker Reuben Foster was sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine. It was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and further explained by The MMQB's Robert Klemko that Foster, considered the top inside linebacker in the draft by analysts, grew tired of waiting for his medical exam so he tried to move up in line. Foster threatened a male nurse who stopped him, so the former Alabama linebacker was dismissed.

Foster's teammates were left to speak about the incident. Fellow Crimson Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson, who was with Foster, said it was being "blown out of proportion" by the media.

Defensive tackle Dalvin Anderson, who also played with Foster at Alabama, didn't know the details, but said that Foster is "one of those guys who's hard-working, humble, respectful."

Not all of Foster's teammates came to his defense.

"Very surprising, disappointing, but it happens," said defensive tackle Jonathan Allen.

In fact, it is very surprising because it's hard to recall a player being sent home from the Combine for disciplinary reasons. Tackle Andre Smith voluntarily left the Combine in 2009, which sent up red flags, but nothing like Foster's abrupt exit. Alabama's Pro Day is Wednesday.

3. Garrett: The Best Player In The Draft?

Since the beginning of the college football season, former Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett was a popular pick to be the No. 1 overall selection in this year's draft.

With the draft less than two months away, that still appears to be the case. Garrett posted 32.5 sacks and 48.5 tackles for loss in three years with the Aggies. In addition to his production, he measured in at 6-4, 272 pounds, and is expected to look outstanding in the on-field drills.

"I feel like I'm the best player in the draft, and I feel like I'll prove that today and tomorrow," Garrett said.

Garrett has to do some explaining to the team with the top pick - the Cleveland Browns. He posted a video asking the Dallas Cowboys of all teams to draft him. He planned to address it in his interview with the Browns, but he also offered a sample of what he will bring to the team that drafts him.

"I feel like I'm a playmaker so I'm not going to have to worry about that," Garrett said. "I feel like I'm going to bring some work ethic into practice and into the weight room that will change things around there, and maybe be a voice of leadership that can help swing things."

4. Harris Fluent In Multiple Defenses

One name to watch throughout the remainder of the pre-draft process is that of former Missouri Tiger Charles Harris.

It seems like Missouri produces an edge rusher almost every year of late with Shane Ray and Markus Golden in 2015, and Kony Ealy and Michael Sam in 2014.

Harris is going a little bit under the radar because of a scheme change the Tigers went through in 2016. Instead of rushing out of a 3-point stance, Harris played stand-up linebacker where he was asked to do a lot more dropping into coverage.

"It allowed me to learn more about the game," Harris said.

He had nine sacks this past season, which was two more than in 2015 when he played in a system more comparable to what is run in Philadelphia. However, Harris racked up 18.5 tackles for loss in '15 compared to 12 last year.

Playing out of a 3-point stance, Harris says, allows him to take advantage of his "great first step" which could be unleased in the NFL in the right system.

We're taking you through each day of the NFL Combine to showcase some of the standout performances. Take a look at some of the players you should keep an eye on...

5. 'Nova's Kpassagnon A Small-School Gem

It's hard to imagine how someone who is now 6-6, 289 pounds would get lost in the college recruiting process, but that's what happened to former Villanova defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Kpassagnon did not grow up in a remote area. He played his high school football in the Philadelphia suburb of Ambler, Pennsylvania at Wissahickon High School. A recruiter went to the school to look at someone else and was told to take a peek at Kpassagnon. He was invited to a camp at Villanova and ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and was offered a scholarship on the spot.

The move worked for both parties. This past season, Kpassagnon had 11 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss earning All-America honors. Kpassagnon's family stressed academics, so he earned his degrees in finance and accounting.

He impressed NFL teams at the Senior Bowl, showing that he can play against the best of the best at the college level after thriving in the small-school ranks. NFL Network and Eagles preseason analyst Mike Mayock thinks that Kpassagnon could go as high as the second round.

"I kind of went in knowing that. Some of the older guys on my team told me you belong there. You can play at a higher level," Kpassagnon said.

"To tell you the truth, the competition wasn't really that much different. The guys were a little bigger, but the skill level was kind of the same as I've been used to."

6. A Temple Player Introduced In Philadelphia?

With the NFL Draft being held in Philadelphia, former Temple defensive end/linebacker Haason Reddick could be introduced to the crowd as a first-round pick.

Reddick would be the first Owl to be selected in the draft's opening round since defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011. The one prior to Wilkerson was running back Paul Palmer ... in 1987.

A native of Camden, Reddick suffered two knee injuries in high school and wasn't on the radar of college teams. He was a walk-on at Temple and in his final season on North Broad Street he had 10.5 sacks to go along with 22.5 tackles for loss, earning first-team All-AAC honors.

Following the season, Reddick went to the Senior Bowl and was named one of the practice players of the week. It can be argued that no player has helped himself more in the pre-draft process.

"The journey has been nothing but hard work for me," Reddick said. "A lot of people think because I'm here now, the work is over. The work for me is not over. I'm going to continue to work hard. I'm going to continue to make sure I have a prosperous career in the NFL. But, as far as the overall journey, I'm living in the dream, and I don't have to wake up. So, I'm extremely grateful and appreciative of this opportunity and I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in."

7. Money Won't Change McKinley

On April 27, edge rusher Takkarist McKinley could hear his name be among the first 32 called in the NFL Draft.

McKinley is a big fan of Ramen noodles. The money that McKinley will earn in the NFL can certainly afford more luxurious meals, but the Ramen reminds him of what he overcame to get to this point today.

"The thing behind that, growing up as a kid times got rough for me and my family," the 6-2, 250-pound McKinley said. "We couldn't have like spaghetti or a top meal, so Ramen back in the day was like 30 cents. Auntie would send me to the store to get Ramen and that would be dinner for me. But it's a constant reminder that I'm not going to change no matter who I am, no matter how much money I get. Ramen been there for me. Been there for me day one and I'm never going to forget it."

The former UCLA Bruin had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 2016. What's amazing is that he's dealt with a labrum tear and fractured glenoid for most of the past two years. He's undergoing surgery to have it repaired after the Combine, and will be sidelined at least four months.

"My thing is I played with this injury for two years, dating back to 2015, my junior year. Never knew something was wrong with it," McKinley said. "Played with it my entire senior year, never knew anything was wrong with it. One day my agent asked me, 'Is there anything wrong?' I said I got this little shoulder that sometimes bothers me. Got an MRI. Doctor was pretty much amazed that I played with it. Me, I just told my trainers at UCLA just tape me up, I'm ready to go. So why get surgery right before the Combine? I mean, this is a dream come true for me. I'm here to knock it out."

8. Is Tim Williams A Three-Down Player?

He's ranked as Mayock's No. 2 edge rusher in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Tim Williams was never a full-time starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

"It's pretty hard to crack," the 6-2, 244-pound Williams said. "We've got a lot of guys here (at the Combine) and others who deserve to be here. We are a team. At the end of the day, we were the No. 1 defense and made it to the championship (game)."

Will it be hard for a team to use a first-round pick on a subpackage player? According to Pro Football Focus, Williams was on the field for just 55 of over 100 snaps in the BCS National Championship loss to Clemson. For the season, though, Williams was second on the team with nine sacks and tied for second with 16 tackles for loss.

"I'm an all-around competitor. I'm a champion. I want to win. I hate to lose," Williams said. "I just know there are not too many guys who can do what I do. I can down in a 3-point stance and rush the passer. I can stand up in a 2-point stance and get the same get-off. I have a lot of moves as a pass rusher. I'm a bull-rush guy; I'm not a finesse guy."

Williams claimed that he always puts the team first and never pouted about his role, but he has an additional red flag in that he admitted to failing drug tests while at Alabama. He hopes to alleviate any and all of teams' potential concerns in Indianapolis.

"It's going in and being completely honest. It's a billion-dollar industry. They've done their homework. They know everything about you," Williams said. "You can't go in there and be dishonest because the first impression is the last impression. That's what I've been doing a great job of since I've been here. Going up and being honest with every team. So far, they've respected me for that. Just going in there and being openly honest about everything because they know what I can do on the field."

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