Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
Weight: 270 pounds
40 time: 4.69
A classic one-year wonder with unbelievable athleticism for a defensive end prospect, Jason Pierre-Paul enters the NFL with some of the highest upside of any prospect in this year’s draft along with being one of the most raw prospects in the draft.
A one-year starter for South Florida, Pierre-Paul tallied 45 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and six sacks in the only year he played for the Bulls.
A natural pass rusher who possesses a fantastic burst off the edge, Pierre-Paul is an explosive player with excellent closing speed in short-areas. Jason has a long, lanky frame that has room to add further weight as well as very long arms that help him to create separation at the point of attack with the offensive lineman. Pierre-Paul closes very well down the line in the run game with a strong ability to wrap up the ball carrier as well as make a big hit when the opportunity presents itself; he also does a very good job in pursuit down the field. With how tall he is with his long wing span, he has what it takes to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage.
It’s easy to become infatuated with Jason’s athleticism, but I don’t understand the thinking of some scouts. Jason started just seven games in college, made only six sacks, and some scouts want to make him a top-five pick; that is not what scouting is, that’s jumping to assumptions about someone’s potential because he can do 14 back flips in a row; while that may look nice, it doesn’t mean the kid can play football.
Jason is almost a liability against the run when you consider that he has little strength at the point of attack and can be blown off of the line of scrimmage when he loses his balance and leverage. He’s leverage is very inconsistent, he’s not stout at the point of attack, and his technique is extremely sloppy. Pierre-Paul isn’t as flexible as his great athleticism would lead you to believe and he’s a stiff player who struggles with changing direction in the open field. His instincts and intelligence are both question marks that I have after he signed with Central Florida out of high school but didn’t qualify academically and had to go to two different JUCO’s before landing at South Florida. Jason is one of the most inexperienced players in this year’s draft. I project that Pierre-Paul will be drafted in the first round, likely among the Top 20 picks with a chance of going in the Top 10.
I love Jason’s athleticism as much as anyone, but he’s so far from a complete prospect that I think he’s going to need at least one-to-two years just to develop as a player. He needs work on his technique, adding strength, and continuing to learn the nuances of the game; Jason didn’t start playing football until he was a junior in high school. His best fit at the next level will come as a 4-3 defensive end or as a 3-4 outside rush linebacker. He’s going to need to gain a lot of strength and add weight to his lanky frame if he wants to remain at end. The sky is the limit for Jason’s potential and upside and his best football could certainly still be in front of him, however he’s a boom-or-bust prospect who is a riskier pick than some of the other defensive ends he’s ranked alongside.
Notes: Jason was named first-team All-Big East in 2009. Jason was a Junior College All-American in 2007 when he played at the College of the Canyons in California (14 sacks as a freshman); he transferred to Fort Scott Community College in 2008 where he played for one year (10.5 sacks as a sophomore). Jason played basketball in high school before making the switch to playing football when he was a junior.
He’s got the speed of Griffen and the size, athleticism and nose for the QB that Morgan exhibits. He could just be a one-year wonder, but if drafted by a team running the 4-3, will be a terrific DE prospect.
Because he’s so versatile, though, there’s a chance he’s drafted by a team running the 3-4. In either case, I wouldn’t plan on using him as and every week fantasy starter for at least 2 years. Grab him in the middle rounds and stash him on your DTS. He could turn out to be a gem.