The Buccaneers have been linked to several safeties in various mock drafts, but no players' names have appeared more often than Mighican's Jabrill Peppers and UConn's Obi Melifonwu. Buccaneers.com contributors Andrew Norton, Scott Smith and Joe Kania debate which player would be the better fit in Tampa Bay:**
Some of the top shots of Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu.
Andrew Norton: Obi Melifonwu**
Melifonwu has four years of starting experience at safety compared to Peppers who was a linebacker (and a whole lot more) last season. Peppers would come with kick return experience, but would also have a lot of on-the-job learning to do at the safety position. Melifonwu's tackling ability (led the AAC in solo tackles last season) and his eight career interceptions to Peppers' one give him the edge for me. Plus he was an absolute monster in Indy, posting a 4.40 40 and the top vertical and broad jumps of any Combine performer this year.
Joe Kania: Jabrill Peppers
The purpose of this piece is to figure out which player is a better fit for the Buccaneers. But based on Peppers' college career, we don't even know which position is the best fit for him. I like the idea of having a player that can have an impact on the return game, play in the secondary and near the line of scrimmage and line up on offense if need be. He's on the smaller side, but that didn't stop him from being a Heisman Trophy finalist as a linebacker in the most powerful conference in college football last year.
Some of the top shots of Michigan's Jabrill Peppers.
Scott Smith: Obi Melifonwu*
We saved the most difficult choice for last, in my opinion. The problem is, both of these players look like they *could be stars at the next level, but it's also difficult to be fully confident in that projection. For Peppers, that's because of the question of where he fits best in a defense. If it's safety, as most suggest, is he more of an in-the-box strong safety type or can he be an impact player roaming centerfield. Meanwhile, in Melifonwu we have a player whose draft stock is soaring thanks to a ridiculous Combine performance. Overestimating a player thanks to combine-drill measurables can get a team in trouble; on the other hand, those numbers sometimes serve to shine the light on what might have been an undervalued prospect. It's impossible not to think about Byron Jones, another recent UConn safety who blew the doors off the Combine…and has developed into a very nice player in Dallas. If I'm going to shove my chips in on one of these gambles, I'll go with the freakishly athletic Melifonwu and hope he's another Jones, or better.