Browns, NFL Draft

It’s OK to like Browns rookie Jabrill Peppers, Ohio State fans

Ohio State Buckeyes fans have learned to hate Cleveland Browns rookie Jabrill Peppers. Why, you ask? He was a standout player for the University of Michigan. That school that Ohio State fans hate. That school happens to be on the other side of the Buckeyes in college football’s biggest rivalry. That school that Buckeye Nation calls That School Up North. That school that the scarlet and gray have dominated on the football field this entire century.

After the Browns selected Peppers with the 25th pick Thursday night, many Buckeyes fans who are also Browns fans took to social media, expressing their displeasure their favorite NFL team would draft a guy from that school. Peppers was the first Wolverine the Browns have picked since selecting wide receiver Braylon Edwards in 2005.

I hated on Peppers during his three-year stint at Michigan. Wolverines fans obsessed over him and he was overrated in terms of being named a 2016 Heisman finalist purely based on his versatility. But starting Thursday night, him being a former Wolverine means nothing to me, and Ohio State fans should believe the same. Now, I hope that he not only becomes an All-Pro but helps lead the Browns to the postseason—maybe, just maybe, to be Super Bowl contenders, someday—but that’s too far down the road to even worry about right now.

On a barren Browns roster, Peppers will immediately step in and fill one of the team’s biggest needs: A legitimate, game-changing safety. While the rookie will start at safety, his versatility will tremendously help the team. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can use him as a safety, nickel cornerback, and even at linebacker depending on the need. With all of the different formations Williams likes to run, Peppers’ versatility will make it so that he doesn’t have to be subbed out if (and when) the defense changes formations during a drive. That is huge. Add in the fact that Peppers can be the team’s kick and punt returner (and also a wildcat quarterback) and Browns fans will love how much this kid can do. Him being from Michigan means nothing to the Browns. The Dawg Pound will follow suit once they see how much Peppers can help the team on and off the field.

So I ask one thing: Once a player is on your favorite professional team, why does where they went to college even matter? Using their college as a reason to dislike them on a rival NFL team is understandable, but their college has no affect on how they will perform as professional athletes. Ohio State fans who also root for the Browns need to stop the hate on Peppers just because he went to that school. Now that he’ll be donning the orange and brown, the fact that he once made a mistake on his college school choice no longer matters.