Last offseason Gene Smith made a commitment to character, releasing anyone on the team of questionable character and drafting a crop of young players who all showed the utmost character during their rookie season. Looking ahead to the draft of 2010 we have to consider character as a factor when searching for potential Jaguars of the future. Obviously talent trumps character in terms of draft position, but a lack of character can quickly override talent.
Mike Tepper is a true class act. Don't take my word for it, read this story about the night Tepper saved a girl's life and risked his own life to do so. To make a long story short, in 2005 he stepped in between a car and a girl after two guys in the car were harassing the girl he was with. They then proceeded to back the car into Tepper, running over his leg and throwing him backwards. Just before the car hit him, he pushed the girl to safety. After running over his leg in reverse, the men in the car put the car in drive and ran over his leg again. The doctors considered amputating the leg after a major artery was severed in the leg and was causing excessive bleeding.
After all was said and done, Tepper was lucky to still have both legs. Nine screws and a metal plate were needed to repair the broken fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle. Amazingly, he returned for the next season and saw time in all 13 games, starting two of them. During his 5th and final year of eligibility he tore his pectoral and missed the entire season post-surgery. The NCAA rewarded him with a 6th year of eligibility and he started all 13 games at left tackle for the Bears. In his six years at Cal he became a fan favorite and a leader on the team, exactly the type of player that Gene Smith targets.
On the field, Tepper has extensive time at both the right and left tackle position. He doesn't have experience at the guard position, but his size, 6'7 319 lbs., and skill set would indicate that a switch is possible. He's very technically sound and slides his feet very well, keeping himself in position. He definitely has the strength to be successful at the next level, but doesn't do as well at rushing plays compared to his pass blocking specialty.
On a side note, the reason I know his story is because I've followed him since he came out of high school. He's an alumni of the same high school as me and grew up in the same city as myself. He's a pretty popular figure here and the story of his accident is pretty well known. I really wish him the best of luck wherever he gets drafted.
This doesn't show his skills much, but it at least explains the picture above
Mike Tepper: By the Numbers
Position 1: Offensive Tackle
Position 2: N/A
|Class: Senior||Age: 24|
Projected Round: 5th-7th
1st Team All Pac-10 2009
According to the Experts
Good measurables for the LOT position. Able to slide his feet and use his frame to steer his man away from the QB. Good technician. Gets seal on run plays and can control the edge.
Needs to stick his blocks better. Struggles when he has to change directions. Trouble picking up blockers in space.
Although Tepper will not be at the Scouting Combine, he will be playing in the East-West Shrine Game and word is he's doing very well in practices. Wes Bunting of National Football Post had this to say about Tepper's performances in practice:
The one guy on the roster who looks like he has the ability to develop into a starter at the next level is Cal standout Mike Tepper. Tepper possesses a big frame, has shown better range on his kick-slide than given credit for and has the ability to create a push off the edge. I wouldn't project him as a left tackle in the NFL, but as a tough right-side player, I think he can play in the league.