The 6-foot, 200-pound Peppers, a do-everything athlete at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High, is heading to Ann Arbor to play cornerback, but that only speaks partly to his ability.
What are the Wolverines getting in the five-star prospect? And what is his best position? FOXSportsNEXT takes an in-depth look at what Peppers brings, and is using several in-game evaluations, a camp evaluation and a workout evaluation for it.
What to Like
Um, pretty much everything.
Peppers is so good, so versatile, it is almost ridiculous to consider. He may be the No. 11 prospect overall, but it will be hard to find anyone with as many dimensions as Peppers.
He is a five-star cornerback, would be a five-star safety, a borderline five-star running back and a four-star receiver. He also returns kicks and punts, lines up as a "Wildcat" quarterback and is an elite sprinter in track.
He is physical, his acceleration is phenomenal, he has great vision, looseness in his hips, an ability to change direction at a high rate of speed and tremendous balance. He is tough and a team leader, and sets the tone for offseason workouts.
During a February team training session, Peppers set the pace for the intensity of it. He was also the one encouraging his teammates the most, and the first one use positivity to help a teammate complete a demanding drill at the end of the workout.
There are plenty of highlight tapes of Peppers from his junior season, but let's look at cut-ups (below) from a game against DePaul Catholic High (Wayne, N.J.) for explicit examples of Peppers' skill.
Starting with the first play, Peppers' ability is jaw-dropping. He demonstrates speed, an ability to cut back, balance, vision and speed.
At the 38-second mark, Peppers shows his ability to quickly read a play, accelerate and deliver a big hit. He was lined up at safety with his primary responsibility to stop the run, and he fills the hole quickly.
At the one minute mark, he makes a quick read and accelerates toward the line of scrimmage. His pads are square to the ball carrier when he makes the play, and again it is done with precision and purpose.
Finally, his coverage skills are on display at the 1:10 mark. He doesn't jam at the line of scrimmage, but he turns his hips quickly and runs easily and effortlessly down the sideline with textbook coverage of being on the receiver's hip. Peppers, who tracks the ball well, locates it and has tremendous coverage.
What Needs to Improve
This is a bit nit-picky, but there are always areas of improvement. For Peppers, it is in the form of over aggressiveness. During in-person evaluations, there are times Peppers takes himself out of the play because of his aggressiveness to make a play.
For example, on one occasion he pushed a receiver five years out of bounds while battling to get off a block, and the running back ran to the open side and turned in a big play.
Again, it is nitpicky, but there has to be something here.
In the 2012 class, Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) had five-star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton and a trio of four-star prospects in receiver Leonte Carroo, cornerback Yuri Wright and safety Elijah Shumate. Peppers, who later transferred to Paramus Catholic, was a sophomore on that team, and was the best player.
He is really good, but what stands out the most is Peppers is really good at a lot of positions. I always temper expectations as kids make transitions from high school to college because they need time to adjust.
In the case of Peppers, if he is not playing a ton as a true freshman, it would be stunning. He is one of the best prospects to come out of New Jersey …period!