There’s been a lot of talk in recent days about the Falcons scooping up Jabrill Peppers in the first round, talk that I haven’t found particularly convincing. Still, it certainly seemed possible that Peppers would wind up going in the first round...until this news broke.
Jabrill Peppers tested positive for a diluted sample at the NFL Combinehttps://t.co/gUI7hedsLq— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) April 24, 2017
There are a host of reasons this might have happened, but the one that will have NFL teams hoisting red flags is that it was masking a drug, possibly marijuana. As dumb as the league’s crusade against marijuana is, teams have little tolerance for players who don’t pass drug tests with flying colors, and this is likely to put at least a small dent in Peppers’ stock.
It’s hard to suss out his stock in the first place. Peppers is an intriguing returner and special teamer and will probably be a legitimate asset for NFL teams at either linebacker or safety, but it’s not 100% clear where he’ll be better, and there are concerns that he’s more of an insane athlete and talent than a top-flight starter. It’s also not clear that he’d be a great fit as Atlanta’s free safety, and Keanu Neal would appear to have strong safety locked down. The team talked him up in response to questions less than a week ago, but there are safeties who would seem to be better fits (Budda Baker, I’m looking at you) if the team is dead set on taking one in the first round.
In other words, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time thinking about Peppers heading to Atlanta at #31. If he makes it to #63 and the team hasn’t already addressed safety, though, this thing could get interesting.