A first and a third. A first and a third?! The number of times I’ve seen pundits and journalists alike reporting that the compensation the Giants received in the Odell Beckham Jr trade as a ‘first and a third’ is starting to make my blood boil.
Did the Giants get what they deserved when dealing away one of the most talented wide receivers to ever don the Big Blue uniform? Probably not, but they definitely acquired the tools to work with to rebuild this team in three key areas.
Yes, I did say three. As well as the prominently promoted first and third round picks the G-men received, a 23-year-old strong safety from East Orange, New Jersey also came as part of the package, and only time will tell, but he could end up being the most important part of that transaction in the coming years.
Jabrill Ahmad Peppers, a 5ft 11in athletic freak who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds at the NFL Combine, was ranked in the top 5 players across the nation to come out of high school football. A five-star recruit from Paramus Catholic College, just like top 10 projected draft pick Rashan Gary in next month’s NFL Draft, Peppers was a star in a Michigan team that won the Citrus Bowl in 2015, helping the Wolverines to back-to-back 10-3 seasons.
To put it simply, there is a lot more to come from Peppers. He knows it, and we know it. His first season in the NFL was rough, mainly because the Browns couldn’t decide where was best to play him. In 2018, the star many were expecting to see in the league started to shine brightly with some flashy plays here and there that captured the imagination of fans in Cleveland, a glimpse into what this young man could become in the future.
The move to New York comes exactly at the right time. Browns fans were just starting to see the sheer talent Peppers was as a strong safety, particularly towards the end of last season. Peppers had a monster game in Week 15 against the Denver Broncos, with two particular plays making the difference between winning and losing, as he picked off a Case Keenum throw in the first half, before finishing the game with a sack in the dying seconds to deny them the Broncos the chance of a game-winning field goal.
Fine-tuning his game and his best position has been the most difficult part of perfecting Peppers, as he might already lay acclaim to being one of the best all-around athletes in the National Football League. Losing Landon Collins was a body blow, but at least Dave Gettleman addressed that situation in the trade, bringing in a young man, rated #16 in defensive backs last season, as per PFF.
Just like in Cleveland with Demarious Randall, Peppers has the perfect mentor beside him to help him out with the specifics of his game in Super Bowl 41 winner Antoine Bethea. Peppers’ ability to read both the run and the passing game is definitely one of his strengths, something he has worked greatly on since his college days. He has struggled to put numbers up on the board in the way of interceptions or sacks, and his Swiss-army-knife style may have been a bonus at college, but in the big league’s, you need to be very good at one position, and strong safety seems to be his forte.
On one of the grandest stages in all of sports, New York City, the boyhood Giants fan now has the chance to become a fan favorite. He has every chance in the world of making it in the Big Apple, and the sooner he pulls off an earth-shattering play that only those with elite athletic ability can do, the faster he’ll cement his name in Giants folklore. After all, some players can make a career off one big play in New York, isn’t that right Odell? Wink.