Jabrill Peppers is going home. Peppers, who is from East Orange, New Jersey, was acquired by the Giants along with guard Kevin Zeitler, and draft picks from the Browns, in the deal that sent Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to Cleveland.
The 23-year-old Peppers has an opportunity to play in front of his friends and family with the New York Giants, and New York is hoping that he can replace the departed Landon Collins, who recently signed with the Redskins.
On Monday, Peppers took part in a media conference call.
Here is what he had to say:
Q: What was your reaction to the trade?
Peppers: “I was excited. (I) get a chance to play football and do it in front of the home state. It was definitely an exhilarating feeling.”
Q: With losing a player like Landon Collins, what do you think about the expectations that will come with filling that void?
Peppers: “I’m just excited to play football again. Excited to go to the Giants and be one of the best players I can be. I hold myself to a high level and I intend to play at that level.”
Q: Have you had any conversations about how the Giants will be using you in their defense and have you been asking around about James Bettcher and his scheme?
Peppers: “No, no real conversations I’ve had but I’ve been looking at YouTube videos of when he was in Arizona. I’m just anxious to learn the scheme and see how I’m going to be used.”
Q: From where you’re at as a player, how would you give a scouting report on Jabrill Peppers, the player that the Giants are getting?
Peppers: “They’re getting a hard worker. A guy that’s going to do whatever it takes to win. Me personally, I feel as though I haven’t even showed a third of what I can really do. So, I’m anxious just to get there and have a fresh beginning, and immerse myself in the culture and tradition, learn the schemes and be the best player I can be.”
Q: You mentioned coming home, what was it like being the top recruit coming out of high school around this area? What was that time of your life like?
Peppers:: “It wasn’t about being the top recruit, it was just more about the talent level that I was playing against. I was in a very competitive league and it brought the best out of me each and every game. I think that prepared me for the big games at the college level, and even at the NFL level, because some stadiums are smaller than it is at the collegiate level. Just being in that atmosphere, I definitely think that was the biggest factor.”
Q: What’s your family’s reaction been to this homecoming?
Peppers:: “They’re excited, they’re excited. It’s a much easier commute than Cleveland, Ohio. So, that works out.”
Q: Were you surprised when you got the call from the Browns that you’re being traded to the Giants?
Peppers:: “It’s a business, so nothing really can surprise you. It’s just more of a blessing in disguise and I feel as though God doesn’t make mistakes. If this is the path he wants me to walk down on, I’m going to embrace it. It was more of an exciting, exhilarating feeling. Just a new road to go down, and I’m excited to go down it.”
Q: Is there a part of your personality where you can raise your level of play if certain pressure is put on you?
Peppers: “Again, I’m just going there to be the best football player I can be. I hold myself to a high level and I attend to play at that level. That’s about as best as I can give to you.”
Q: Have you talked to Antoine Bethea? Seems like you two are going to be tied together there in the secondary.
Peppers: “I’ve talked to him briefly. He’s a hell of a player and I have fine knowledge of him. He’s a veteran guy who’s made a lot of plays on the ball, made a lot of tackles, he’s played in the system before, so I’m eager to pick his brain and play alongside of him and roam that secondary back there.”
Q: You obviously know Saquon Barkley. I don’t know the depth of your relationship, but have you spoken to Saquon at all? What’s that going to be like being his teammate after both being marquee players in the same conference in college?
Peppers: “It’s going to be a phenomenal thing. Just competing against him in practice every day. After playing against him for most of my career at Michigan, he’s a hell of a player. (I) haven’t really had an extensive conversation with him. All he said was, ‘Let’s get to work,’ and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ That’s kind of where we’re at right now. April 15 is right around the corner. We’re just all finishing up putting the final touches on the offseason training, and eager to come back and get to work.”