May 11, 2016
ANN ARBOR — Two of Michigan’s top defenders continue to garner plenty of early NFL draft attention for 2017.
Michigan redshirt sophomore linebacker/safety Jabrill Peppers and senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis both landed in the top 15 of Mel Kiper’s early NFL draft big board for 2017.
Peppers, the 6-foot-1, 208-pound 2015 Big Ten freshman of the year, was slotted at No. 9 on the list.
His pure athleticism and versatility as a hybrid defensive back who can also play in the box has the interest of NFL teams.
The 2016 season will be Peppers’ third at Michigan, which means he’ll be eligible for the draft despite having two years of eligibility remaining after this fall (he received a medical redshirt in 2014).
“There isn’t much Peppers can’t do on the football field, as he was dynamic on defense and in the return game; he also put in time on offense last season,” Kiper wrote. “This year, he’ll be something of a hybrid as a guy with safety size and speed lining up in the box. Expect to be impressed.”
Lewis, an All-American last season, came in at No. 15. He’s the third cornerback on the list, behind Florida’s Jalen Tabor and USC’s Adoree Jackson.
Size (5-10, 175) will be the biggest question mark Lewis will have to overcome. But his overall technical ability and consistency in all areas of his game could be enough to keep him in the conversation.
“Lewis could have factored into first-round talk had he jumped into the 2016 draft class, but he’ll return and give Michigan two of the top NFL prospects in the country on one side of the ball,” Kiper added. “Lewis can really cover, but size will be the question mark. Can he stay outside in the NFL?”
Kiper did not list a tight end in his top 25 prospects — at least right now.
Though he does slot Michigan senior All-American Jake Butt as a player who is just on the outside looking in.