Making a List – Will They Stay or Will They Go? IDP Edition

Doug Green

The instant I saw Ryan McDowell had done the offensive side of this, I knew I wanted to crank out the IDP version.

January 16th is looming as the deadline for everyone to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. The names and talent on the IDP side this year rivals, and maybe even exceeds the offensive side. (Yeah, I said it. You read that right.) Those names include Raekwon McMillan, Myles Garrett, Derek Barnette, and Malik Hooker.

Even with that, there are still a few names lingering out there who have yet to declare their intentions one way or the other. I keep a Google spreadsheet of potential draftees, highlighting names of seniors and juniors that have declared as I learn about them. As I hear of names from podcasts and Twitter, I add them my spreadsheet, to keep track for future seasons.

So let’s take a look at five players who are still sitting on the fence.

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1) Jabril Peppers, S/LB Michigan

I haven’t seen this much indecision since the last time I asked my wife where she wanted to eat for dinner. Seemingly Peppers changes his mind daily. You could randomly pull a couple dozen twitter accounts and get at least four different versions of what’s going to happen. For his part, Peppers said earlier in the week that if you haven’t heard from him or the university, it is not official.

At the start of this season Peppers was the hot IDP watch thanks to a switch from safety, a position devalued in the IDP world, to weakside linebacker, one that carries a lot of value. Unfortunately for him, his production didn’t match the hype. He’s listed on ESPN at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, which is kind of light in the pants for a linebacker.

Much of what I’m interested in seeing is how the NFL views him. The Twitter-verse seems to want to force him into that valuable linebacker role, a la Deone Bucannon and Shaq Thompson. I don’t know if he has the size or functional strength to pull that off. If he is drafted by a team that only views him as a safety, that outcome will push him down many IDP boards. However, if he lands somewhere with a creative defensive coordinator or defensive-minded head coach he could recoup some of that value.

2) Zach Cunningham, ILB Vanderbilt

Cunningham has been tight-lipped about which way he’s going to go. Draft analysts like Fran Duffy and Matt Miller have him graded highly. If he’s as good as what people I trust say, it would be hard for him to go back to school.

Admittedly I haven’t done much work on him myself, other than watching his bowl game over my holiday vacation. (Yes, I spent my time off watching football. Don’t act like you didn’t either.)

What I’ve seen out of Cunningham shows me he’s a solid player, not great, but solid. As of right now, I would characterize him as someone I wouldn’t be afraid to draft, but wouldn’t trade up for either.

3) Jamal Adams, S LSU

I have heard absolutely nothing about Adams and his decision to stay or go. If he enters the draft, he is easily in the top four for me and maybe the No. 1 safety overall. We have gotten a few LSU declarations already, so that leads me to believe that he would stay, but you never know how a player who commits to a coach and then has them replaced is going to react.

Adams can play in the box or can play centerfield. His versatility is what leads me to say he could be my overall top safety. Washington’s Budda Baker is more of a coverage safety, but doesn’t play in the box as much. Ohio State’s Malik Hooker plays more of the centerfield free safety role and doesn’t roam into the box often either. Only Peppers above does that, but if he stays in school, Adams could leapfrog the other two.

* Editor’s note: Adams announced he was leaving for the draft a few hours before this article was posted.

4) Josey Jewell, ILB Iowa

I live 45 minutes from the University of Iowa campus, and all reports indicate that Jewell is staying put. I personally would like to see him come out though. Outside of Ruben Foster, there really isn’t a guy who I think of as a run stuffer in the way that Jewell is. As an IDP person, linebackers that ring up tackles all day long against a run game are worth their weight in cheeseburgers. Nowadays teams want linebackers who can rush the passer, making players that flow and tackle even more valuable.

5) Adoree Jackson, CB USC

Corners aren’t very valuable in the IDP world, but Jackson, much like Peppers, brings some extra elements. Jackson was the Trojans main kickoff and punt returner this season, giving him extra opportunities for touchdowns. If you’re in a league that counts return yardage as well, Jackson could easily push his way up your draft board.

One factor that might play into Jackson coming out is the fact that he hurt his ankle in USC’s bowl game against Penn State. When it happened everyone watching was afraid he had injured his knee, but it turned out to just be a severe sprain. Something like that might be enough to spook a player on the fence into turning pro, though I have read that Jackson and wideout Juju Smith-Schuster will make their decision together, which might take the injury factor off the table.


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