Five-star high school football recruits enter college with a heap of expectations and hype. As a result, everything they do is magnified, and it can take a long time for the hype to dissipate.
Sometimes the hype never dies down despite pedestrian results. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is the latest beneficiary of unwarranted hype. He only had one interception (off a deflection) in his entire college career, but somehow got labeled a ballhawk because of his athleticism and high school pedigree.
But now his draft stock could be in jeopardy.
Peppers failed a drug test, which could give NFL general managers cause to drop him on their draft boards.
Jabrill Peppers was already an NFL Draft wild card. The former Paramus Catholic’s outlook is even more murky now.
Peppers’ drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine came up dilute, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Peppers’ representatives have since released a statement to Schefter denying any use of drugs, while attributing the dilute test to Peppers’ heavy hydration at the time as he battled with illness (Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster also explained his dilute test with a similar excuse).
Even if Peppers’ test is due to overhydration, the Michigan defensive back will still have to enter the NFL’s substance abuse program, if reports of the dilute test are accurate. The league considers a dilute test to be a positive test under its guidelines.
Here’s a rundown of what that entails:
* Peppers will enter Stage One of the program. He will not face any fine or suspension for the dilute test. In Stage One, Peppers can be tested multiple times. The first stage is designed to last no longer than 90 days, except for special circumstances. If Peppers does not have another positive test, he will exit the program.
* If Peppers has another positive test, he will face a fine (but no suspension) and then be moved to Stage Two. That stage is scheduled for 24 months, and players can start to face suspensions for further positive tests in that stage. Continual positive tests (and suspensions) can then lead to Stage Three, which is the final stage in the program (and can lead to long-term suspensions that require reinstatement by the commissioner).
The bottom line: Peppers’ dilute test could have a negative impact on his draft stock.
The drug test alone could make general managers reluctant, but some teams already had concerns about Peppers’ competitiveness.
Per an NBC ProFootballTalk report:
Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers was one of a handful of draft prospects who didn’t play in his team’s bowl game (due to pulled hamstring). And now that may be costing him in the eyes of NFL teams.
Adam Schefter reported today on ESPN that there are teams with concerns that Peppers didn’t play in his bowl game. Those teams apparently worry that by sitting out Michigan’s Orange Bowl contest against Florida State, he showed a lack of commitment to his team.
Peppers has gone as high as tenth in mock drafts, but now there’s speculation he could potentially fall to the second round. A drop that precipitous could cost Peppers $6.8 million in guaranteed money.
Most teams will likely give Peppers the benefit of the doubt, but all it takes is
one or two cautious franchises jumping ship to cause a draft-day slide.