Fans will continue to have questions about Peppers because they didn’t see him making a lot of splashy plays at Michigan last season. His talent and attitude alone will make him a success in the NFL. He hasn’t been in the first round of the last two mock drafts I’ve done solely because I’m still trying to gauge exactly how teams feel about him and where he should go. Teams are still deciding his best position and how to use him best, and some are even asking Peppers about playing on offense.
Now, that’s the extreme of versatility, but one of the themes of the draft this year will be how safeties can create mismatches for defenses. Because of that, safety value is up in the draft this year and that’s a good thing for someone like Obi Melifonwu of Connecticut.
He helped himself at the Senior Bowl, showing off his versatility to play in man and drop in zone. At almost 6’4 and 224 pounds, he also has the size to come up and play the run. At the combine his 4.4 40-yard dash speed was a little faster than some may have thought, and his 44-inch vertical is proof that he should be able to go up and high point the ball against the biggest of tight ends.
It’s a blazing fastball, the kind that can blow hitters away even if it’s coming from a pitcher a foot-and-a-half shorter. There are at least a couple of active closers who wish they had that kind of velocity. You’ll see it in the WBC, and you’ll see hitters flail at it.
Van Mil has three inches and 10 mph on Young, but Young has made $22.4 million in a 12-year major league career. Van Mil hasn’t made the majors.
If perceived velocity can get Chris Young and his 85-mph fastball into the All-Star Game, how is it possible that Van Mil can’t hold a job in organized baseball, much less make the majors? It almost seems like a paradox.