There might not be a more divisive player than Pierre-Paul some see a 6'5" 270lb player with elite speed, agility and quickness and rate him as high as the #4 prospect in the draft. Others see a single year of modest production (45 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT) at the major college level before his early entry to the draft and are quite wary (Dan's #41 overall prospect).
JPP picked up football as a junior in high school and while his grades prevented him from attending South Florida out of high school he racked up a pair of double digit sack seasons at the JUCO level. His Junior year he reached South Florida where he was paired with George Selvie who had proven a dangerous pass rusher with 14.5 sacks his Sophomore year. JPP was expected to free up Selvie who had struggled with injuries and as the focus of blocking schemes picking up just 4.5 sacks his junior year. The duo of Selvie and JPP disappointed this past year combining for just 10 sacks on the season.
In addition to the inexperience and lack of a history of high level production there are serious concerns about JPP's ability to play the run effectively despite his solid size. On the other hand, he has the physical tools to be a pass rushing phenom.Mocking the Draft
Pierre-Paul possesses good speed and explosiveness at the snap. Combine that with his excellent size, and Pierre-Paul has the makings of a difference maker at the next level. Where Pierre-Paul is underrated is in his bull rush. When he comes off the snap low, he can power through defenders.....Relies on his first move – usually a power move – to beat blockers. Will need to learn counter moves before he should be relied on at the next level....When he goes unblocked, Pierre-Paul displays great pursuit and effort. However, when he gets held up at the line, his effort wanes and he doesn’t continue the play......This is what makes Pierre-Paul such a highly sought after player. He can fire out of his stance with ease to get around the corner. Comes out his stance low, which helps him power around offensive tackles.....Struggles to maintain his assignment and gets pushed around. The South Florida coaches would routinely take Pierre-Paul off the field on obvious running plays. Even though he greatly struggles defending the run, there is something to build on with Pierre-Paul. His length can be an amazing asset here..... Looking at Pierre-Paul, it looks like he has good strength. However, it doesn’t show up during games. Unless Pierre-Paul can use his quickness on the bull rush, he doesn’t have the power to maintain his rush. Can get pushed around by tackles and be completely taken out of games.....Has a tendency to play with too high of a pad level. Doesn’t have the kind of counter moves that the great pass rushers possess. Relies too much on his outside speed. Really struggles stacking linemen against the run. Will need heavy coaching in this area. This is where his inexperience really shows.
Lined up on both sides of the defensive line (and stood up as an outside linebacker) and has the length, effort and closing speed to be a very good pass rusher. Has the height, length and excellent vertical jump to clog passing lanes. Gets to the pocket in a hurry against most tackles.....Very raw in his pass-rush technique -- only capable of going outside and can bull rush effectively against lesser competition. Does not get off blocks to offer a secondary rush. Dances on the edge, even when running backs meet him to chip. Not effective on twists.....Only fair change-of-direction agility for his size; he ends up on the ground too often when ballcarriers elude him. Uses his length and good effort to grab running backs coming through the hole if not engaged. Hustles to plays run away from him or downfield when fresh, but isn't fast enough to chase down running backs or mobile quarterbacks from behind. Does not know how to use his hands to get off blocks from tackles or tight ends. Often on the sideline in short-yardage situations because can't get low or stand his ground against strong tackles.....Explodes out of his stance when rushing the passer out of a three-point stance, especially if the quarterback does not change up the snap count. Little pop into his man's jersey playing against the run game and typically was dominated by NFL-caliber tackles.....Lacks functional strength to hold up against NFL tackles, whether attempting a bull rush or stacking his man to play the run.
Pierre-Paul has the size, frame and athleticism coveted in a 4-3 defensive end. He was highly productive in his one season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. Exhibits impressive speed and quickness off the ball as a pass rusher and good long range in run pursuit. Does not have any durability concerns.
He’s a taller, leaner end who needs to watch his pad level. Power at the point must improve in order to hold up at the point of attack at the next level but possesses the frame to add bulk. Has played for three different football programs including just one season of major college football.
Pierre-Paul, has the potential to be the best pass rusher in the class, but he's also one of the odds on favorites to be a bust. JPP is about as far from a finished NFL ready prospect as you'll see on the first day. He's got the body and athleticism of an All-Pro end, but his technique and run defense is a work in progress. If he manages to fall to 31 he'd be in as good a situation as would be possible behind two elite pass rushers. Allowing him to learn from some of the best and meaning he wouldn't be forced onto the field and expected to contribute early. Still a project and gamble on the scale of JPP isn't something I'd be all that comfortable with in the first round.
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