Since I’m now located on the East Coast, I’ve been following East Coast teams much more closely than I have before.
Of course, you’d have had to be blind to miss Rutgers’ recent rise to prominence (hence the rumors they are the target of a pilfering attempt by the Big Ten) no matter where you lived. But there’s a lot more to the conference than I thought before I returned back to NY.
This year, 18 players from the Big East Conference were drafted and a slew of others were picked up as street free agents.
Over the next week we’re going to take a look at some of them, where they went and what their landing spot might mean for their success in the league.
This time out, we finish off the first rounders with former University of South Florida defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida – Drafted by the New York Giants at 1-15
Pierre-Paul is the highest drafted player in the University of Southern Florida’s history and according to Brian Bennett’s ESPN Big East Blog, when he was selected he gave the Big East more first round picks in this draft than the Pac-10, the same number as the Big Ten and only one less than the ACC. And the Big East did this, Bennett points out, with fewer teams than any of those leagues.
Pierre-Paul may be a bit of a big boom-bust risk but Giants just might be the perfect team for him. As New York loves to rotate defensive linemen in and out, they’ll be able to give Pierre-Paul the time he needs in order to sand off the rough edges of his game while still taking advantage of his explosive pass-rushing skills.
What rough edges you ask?
His speed and quickness make up for a lack of instinct as Pierre-Paul will sometimes read a play completely wrong and on occasion gets too focused on pursuing the quarterback, abandoning his positional responsibilities at times.
His athletic ability will allowed him to make up for it at times in college, but that won’t fly in the pros and he’s going to need to reign it in. Remember also, he lacks a lot of experience, having transferred from College of the Canyons (a JUCO) to USF, where he only played for a year.
That lack of experience coupled with his instinct issues makes him a risk. Again, the Giants need not rely on him completely to be effective and hope by sharing time, he will be allowed to improve without the pressure of having the defense sit on his shoulders.
The cost will still be high if he busts, but if he hits, Pierre-Paul could be a dominant pass rushing force to be reckoned with in the NFC North.