Following a trade down from 12 to 25 with Houston that netted a 2018 first-round pick, the Browns selected Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers.
Sashi Brown wasn’t done dealing because shortly after the selection of Peppers, the Browns sent the first pick in the second round – No. 33 – and fourth round – No. 108 – to Green Bay for the 29th pick to use on Miami tight end David Njoku.
“He has the ability to make plays down the field, and I think you can see that in a lot of his highlights,” Browns head coach Hue Jackson said of Njoku. “He makes contested catches. He can create separation from defenders. He has the ability to be an in-line blocker. He is a three-down tight end, and he play the Y. He can play the U. He has that kind of versatility. We are going to see if we can use his skill set to that way.”
Peppers played linebacker last season for Michigan where he won the 2016 Big Ten linebacker of the year, defensive player of the year and return specialist of the year awards. He also finished fifth in Heisman trophy balloting and was the 2016 Paul Hornug award winner as the nation’s most versatile player.
The Browns plan to use the 6-foot-1, 205-pound jack of all trades at safety in new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams system and he will also serve as a return specialist.
“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,” executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said. “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.”
During the NFL Combine Peppers participated in linebacker as well as defensive back drills on separate days to showcase his talents at both positions. He also was notified this week prior to the draft that he had a diluted drug test sample. Peppers explained that the test was a result of over-hydrating because of his history dealing with cramps.
“I really didn’t have to convince anybody of anything,” Peppers said. “My character speaks for itself. People can speculate on what they want. I am putting that behind me now.”
Brown said that although they are confident that the test result won’t be an issue going forward, they do plan on addressing the situation with him.
“He understands that it is something that he has to clean up as we move forward,” Brown said. “We will spend some time with him on that when he gets here. Mostly, we are really excited to get a real exciting football player. We had gotten comfortable with the background on him to move forward with the selection.”
Njoku, listed at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, provides the Browns offense with another big target after catching 43 passes for 698 yards and 8 touchdowns last season for the Hurricanes.
“I think my speed, my allusiveness, my ability to break tackles [separate me],” Njoku said. “I can also and I am definitely willing to block, as well. I think I have it all.”