2020 NFL Draft

How the Browns will use Jabrill Peppers, the 'ultimate Swiss Army Knife'

Jabrill Peppers was once described as the “ultimate Swiss Army Knife” by NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein.

Peppers, the former Michigan star whom Cleveland selected 25th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, indeed did it all for the Wolverines, playing safety, linebacker, punt/kick returner and some running back over the course of two seasons.

And while he'll primarily play strong safety for the Browns, they intend to put his wide-ranging gifts to good use.

"He's football player, a very dynamic player," head coach Hue Jackson said. "Obviously, he's going to play defense for us, but we'll find a role for him over there on offense. No question."

Peppers is one of three first-rounders netted by Cleveland this past weekend, joining Texas A&M defensive end and first-overall pick Myles Garrett (No. 1) and Miami tight end David Njoku (No. 29). In all, the Browns added 10 new players to what's already the league's youngest roster.

Peppers, who earned the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player last year, is poised to immediately contribute under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who's known for tailoring his schemes toward the strength of his personnel.

Peppers, who played linebacker in 2015 and moved to safety the following season, is what NFL Network's Mike Mayock described as a "mismatch" player in a league that's increasingly becoming more and more about mismatches. 

The Browns, who traded down to No. 25 in exchange for Houston's 2018 first-round pick, saw that potential.

"We were really excited just to get a player that fits our scheme and the experience that Gregg has had finding players like Jabrill and making them successful," said executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown.

"Then, I think Jabrill brings perhaps a dynamic play style and athletic ability that probably Gregg hasn't had in that position and the other guys he's actually turned into Pro Bowlers. That was really exciting for us to be able to add Jabrill and give him to Gregg, who has got experience in knowing exactly how to use that player."

Peppers, who played a key role in helping turn Michigan around after almost a decade of struggles, might also help bring an edge to Cleveland's defense, which finished 31st of 32 teams in a 1-15 campaign last season.

"I'm a hard worker. I'm more competitive than anything," he said. "I probably hate losing more than I like winning. I'm a tenacious kid, very smart and I am a guy who is going to leave it all out there for the team and for the fans as well."

And while the Browns intend to put the ball in Peppers' hands, they made clear they want him to get settled on defense and special teams first. 

"When you have guys that have ability to make plays, you do anything and everything you can to put them in an environment so they can showcase their talent and ability," Jackson said. "We'll do that, but first we are bringing him in here to play defense and play special teams. He's one of the premier special teams players in football. He is a tremendous punt returner and kick returner.

"We're going to make sure that he can hit the ground running doing that, but there's no question we will give him a chance over there on offense, too."

Indeed, Peppers can do it all. But he'll let Jackson and the coaching staff decide what's best for the team.

"Whatever coach Jackson's plan is for me," he said, "I'm going to attack it 110 percent."

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