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You Down with JPP?


At first, no I was not down with JPP.  I was originally not happy when the Giants selected Jason Pierre-Paul out of South Florida with the 15th overall pick in last April’s draft.  I didn’t think that the Giants needed another pass rusher when they already had so many great ones, but it turns out I’ve been proven wrong once again.

“Again” is the key word because this has happened once before.  In 2006 the Giants drafted Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka in the first round and I was upset then as well.  Kiwanuka was thought to be a surefire first round pick at the conclusion of that college football season, but then had a terrible offseason which included being dominated by Virginia left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson in the Senior Bowl. 

Then-GM Ernie Accorsi saw Kiwi’s potential despite other team’s concerns; he traded down to the 32nd pick and was still able to get his man.  With so many other great pass rushers on the roster like Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and prospect Justin Tuck, I didn’t understand at the time why Accorsi would pick another one so early in the draft.  Tuck got hurt after just six games that year, Kiwanuka was thrust into a prominent role, and I quickly learned the lesson that you can never have enough dominant pass rushers.

Fast forward to 2010 and history seems to be repeating itself.  This year it was difficult to understand why the Giants would take JPP so early when they already had Tuck, Osi, and Kiwi.  Then after racking up four sacks in the first three games Kiwanuka suffers a herniated disk and is lost for the year.  Thus Pierre-Paul is thrown into an important pass rushing role and the Giants GM, now Jerry Reese, looks like a genius once again.

JPP was expected to serve only a special team role in his rookie season.  Pierre-Paul was labeled by many draft analysts as the first round pick most likely to be a bust, largely due to the fact that he hasn’t played much football in his life.  He was a basketball star at Deerfield Beach High School in Deerfield Beach, FL before suffering a leg injury his senior year and deciding to take up football.  He played for a year at College of the Canyons then another at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas before transferring to South Florida as a junior.  He started all 13 games in his only season with the Bulls registering six and a half sacks en route to being named All-America by Pro Football Weekly and All-Big East.

I was able to see Pierre-Paul play in person last year when USF took on my Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway.  I knew a lot about USF’s senior defensive end George Selvie, but it was Pierre-Paul who stood out in the game, sacking the quarterback Tom Savage twice.  From then on JPP was on my radar and the radar of NFL scouts, especially those at the game scouting Rutgers LT Anthony Davis who was also a first round pick in April.  Scouts also began to take notice because 6’6’’ 265lb. Pierre-Paul is such a physical specimen.  His athleticism cannot be described, it must be witnessed.


JPP is making non-believers (like me) come around of late.  He has been superb in kick coverage all year, routinely getting down the field faster than players who are supposedly speedsters and making the types of hits that will make you cringe.  The real revelation has been his play on defense the past two games.  In the games against Jacksonville and Washington JPP racked up his first four NFL sacks to go with two forced fumbles and one recovered.  The light seems to have gone on for Pierre-Paul, and practicing alongside two of the best in Tuck and Umenyiora every day can’t hurt.  His style is even starting to emulate that of his veteran teammates; those long arms make him the perfect pupil for “Master of the Strip Sack” Umenyiora.

It’s never good to blindly have faith in your GM, but Jerry Reese has now earned the right to gamble on guys like Pierre-Paul and not be scrutinized.  While a great GM makes his money by finding late round gems (like Bradshaw, Boss, and Goff), he also needs to prove he can hit on the big money guys.  Giants fans are starting to become down with JPP, and down with whoever Reese wants to draft in the future.


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