One of the NFL Draft’s top prospects is going through a bit of a rough news cycle.
NFL notified teams that Michigan’s Jabril Peppers tested positive for a dilute sample at the combine, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 24, 2017
Jabrill Peppers is regarded as one of the most unique college prospects available in the 2017 draft, and someone who could be of interest to the Bears. At one point, Mike Mayock had him ranked as the top safety in a class that is deep and talented at that particular position. Peppers is a jack-of-many trades with experience as a safety, cornerback, linebacker, kick returner, and several offensive positions. But his lack of a position and tweener status was already sliding him down draft boards, and the report of a diluted urine sample at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis won’t help.
Neither will a report that teams were holding a missed bowl game against Peppers during the evaluation process. Peppers, who said he wanted to play (despite a hamstring injury) in Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss, missed the game during a time when other top-tier prospects were also holding themselves out of games. If you recall, LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey skipped out on their respective team’s bowl appearances. Yet, Fournette seems to be a top-10 lock, while McCaffrey’s rising stock seems to put him in the mix as a first-round pick. A missed bowl game doesn’t seem to be hurting their draft position right now.
Even still, this is a bad time for old ghosts to be haunting Peppers. How far his stock falls is something that will shake out later this week. ESPN’s Todd McShay shared his first mock draft way back in December and had Peppers going to the Bears with the third pick, but a whole lot has changed since then. Is it possible now that Peppers could slide out of the first round entirely? If so, it will be interesting to see which team – the Bears included – is willing to take a chance on the athletic upside, the rough week notwithstanding.