We’ve noticed many of the college SBN blogs helping out their sister NFL blogs by putting together draft profiles of their former players who could potentially be taken in the first two rounds. So we’re following suit. The Bulls have three such players; today we’re profiling Jason Pierre-Paul.
Measurables: 6'5", 270 lbs.
40 Time: 4.67 seconds.
Career Stats: 45 tackles, including 16.5 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks in 2009. He also blocked a kick, forced two fumbles, and ran an interception back for a touchdown. And as you might have heard, he performed 14 consecutive backflips at the International Bowl to beat Kion Wilson in a post-practice contest.
Quick Bio: To Bulls fans, Jason Pierre-Paul was a comet streaking across the sky. He wasn't around for long, but he burned hot and bright, and everyone could see his greatness. Pierre-Paul went to junior college out of Deerfield Beach High School, playing one year at the College of the Canyons and another at Fort Scott Community College. He collected 119 tacks and 24.5 sacks in those two years, becoming a five-star junior college prospect at defensive end. Ultimately Pierre-Paul chose USF over a slew of big-time programs, becoming one of the program's few five-star recruits to date.
After a slow start to 2009, Pierre-Paul broke out in a big way against Florida State with three TFLs, a sack, a forced fumble, and two hurries. He followed up the next week with two TFLs and another sack against Syracuse, and he also blew up a screen pass and ran it back for a touchdown. The next week against Cincinnati, he had two more TFLs. Then 2.5 TFLs and two sacks against Rutgers, where he was one of the few players to come out of that debacle with any honor. Seven tackles, two for loss, another sack, and another forced fumble against Miami. Pierre-Paul got it done in just about every game, whether it was against a weak sister or a top-flight opponent. With scouts and draftniks already projecting him as a possible first-round pick, Pierre-Paul declared for the NFL draft in early January, skipping his senior year.
Pros: Maybe the most intriguing physical specimen in the 2010 draft class - tall, well-built, fast, incredibly long arms (he reportedly has an 81" wingspan). Uses those arms well to engage and then get away from blockers. Gets out of the blocks quickly, sometimes anticipating the snap count, and can beat slower offensive linemen around the corner before they can even set up. Doesn't take plays off. Extremely athletic and can make plays very few players at his position can make.
Cons: Might be too lanky to play in a 4-3 defense right now, and would need some work to become a good run defender as a lineman. Because of his height, he can be leveraged out of plays. Sometimes overpursues ballcarriers or quarterbacks in the pocket. Only played one season of major college football and may need a little while to develop and bulk up, though he has the frame to do it if need be. And, uh… how should I put this… when you listen to him give interviews, he doesn't come across as the sharpest knife in the drawer. Looks could be deceiving - maybe he just isn't a good public speaker (I should know). At the same time, I hope we never find out his Wonderlic score.
NFL Comparison: Depends on whether you want to compare him to a defensive lineman or a linebacker. I'm not sure there's a current defensive lineman to compare him to. Julius Peppers is bigger, stronger, and better against the run, so that doesn't work. But you don't have to go back too far to find one that might work. Remember Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila? Similar in size and speed to Pierre-Paul, and a lot of people thought he was a one-trick pony, like some people think Pierre-Paul is. But KGB had one hell of a trick. He needed a couple of years to settle in with the Packers, but in 2001 he had 13.5 sacks without even starting a game. He was an incredible pass rusher. Between 2001 and 2005 he had 59 sacks and 13 forced fumbles while only missing one game. While he never became a good run stopper, Gbaja-Biamila still managed to make an impact even when he was reduced to a situational pass-rusher in 2007, with 9.5 sacks. It's too bad 3-4 defenses weren't in vogue a few years back because that guy could have been a holy terror as an outside linebacker.
<lazy middle-aged columnist> And they both have hyphenated last names! They're practically twins!! </lazy middle-aged columnist>
If you want to compare Pierre-Paul to a linebacker, I'll let Michael Lombardi at the fantastic National Football Post handle that one.
Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida has only started seven games and one year of major college football, yet he looked as impressive as any defensive lineman I’ve watched work out. He’s raw and athletic, and he played hard all season. The lack of experience will hurt him in his rookie season — but in two years, if he keeps working hard, he might be the next DeMarcus Ware.
Projection: I already wrote about how much Pierre-Paul has been subjected to the irrational exuberance that goes on during the buildup to the draft. But I think where he ends up drafted will be dictated by two things. One, what defensive system does the team use? Two, is it worth overlooking his nomadic past and his present shortcomings to get their hands on such impressive physical talent? A team with a 3-4 defense might be willing to take him sooner if they need an edge linebacker, because Pierre-Paul could definitely fill the bill. And of course some teams put higher stock in potential and skill than experience and production.
The bottom line is someone will take Pierre-Paul in the first round, maybe in the top 15 picks. The earlier they pick him, the more of a roll of the dice it will be. I don't think teams have to worry about his work ethic as an NFL player. But what he achieves in the pros will involve a lot of things beyond his control, like where he's placed on the field, how soon they need him to make a major impact, and how well he's coached up. Based on that, I think he will either boom or bust. Hopefully the first one, for everyone involved.
Jason Pierre-Paul features from BullsVision