With Wilson and newly signed Will Demps projected to be the respective starters at strong safety and free safety, they won’t necessarily need Charlie Peprah to make such an immediate impact this season. But Peprah, who was chosen 158th overall, realizes that there is pressure on him to make prompt improvement. The former Alabama standout took that Tom Coughlin message to heart pretty quickly.
“Everything is a whole lot faster at this level,” Peprah said following a recent rookie minicamp practice. “Everything from the schedule, to the practice tempo, to the learning. I’m quickly learning what it is to become a pro. The demand is high. They want you to get things and they want you to get it right now. They want you to correct your mistakes and they want you to correct it right now. So I think those that can do that stay, and those that can’t, don’t stick around.”
Peprah’s versatility could help him stick around.
The Plano, Texas native started most of his freshman season and all of his sophomore season at cornerback, but was switched to strong safety for his junior and senior years. He teamed the last two seasons with Roman Harper, a second-round draft choice of New Orleans, to form one of the most effective safety tandems in college football.
“They moved him to safety really for the good of the team,” Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said. “The kid had seven interceptions as a two-year starter as a corner. So he was playing fine as a corner. They just moved him there because that was the need for them. We drafted him as a safety, but he was a two-year starter as a corner. So we have a two-way shot with him.”
Peprah is a rare strong safety with enough speed to play cornerback, too, and could be especially useful in nickel and dime packages. The 5-11, 202-pound Peprah is a solid playmaker as well, but was knocked at Alabama for not performing at a consistent level. He knows, however, that he can’t afford lapses as a Giant, especially when he has so much to learn from the team’s veteran defensive backs.
“Technique in the NFL is important,” said Peprah, who grew up a diehard Cowboys fan in Plano, a 25-minute drive from Texas Stadium. “You can’t have any wasted footsteps. Everything has got to be crisp. The one thing I need to work on, definitely, is getting my technique down. And I will be working on that hard. The good thing is that’s something I can fix.”