The big questionmark Part 2: Scouting Jason Pierre-Paul DE; USF


[Editor note: Zoltan continues his series on Defensive Line help. So far we have not found any top ten pick eligible candidates. Mel Kiper likes Jason Pierre-Paul for the Jaguars. I would rather trust Zoltan. Let’s see what he thinks]

In the first part of this series I already showed how desperate the situation of the Jaguars pass rush is looking. In the first part I showed the secure candidate for many is Derrick Morgan however I expressed my doubts on the Georgia Tech DE.  Now let’s see a not so secret candidate for the job, USF junior DE Jason Pierre Paul.

He had a great 2009 season as a Bull. He came from nowhere and is now flying high on the value boards of the scouts. He is looking like a sure 1st round selection which is pretty impressive from a player who was literally unknown for the most of the football fans. Why? Because he spent every year in different schools in his 3 years in college.

Let’s see his background. He is 6’6 260 lbs junior. He looks like he is a big player compared to most of the DEs playing at his position. Just like others such as Matt Jones,  Reggie Williams and Derrick Harvey, the size and measurable would make him a top candidate to former vice president for player personnel James “Shack “Harris. Luckily he is not in charge in the River City anymore. Jason was a Five-star prospect at defensive end coming out of high school but he chose to go College of the Canyons. [Terry: There are very few 5 star candidates and they usually have their pick of where to go. Why here?] He did very well there amassed 49 tackles, 14 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery as a freshman at College of the Canyons and earned First-team All-WSC and All-America honors. Then he chose to go to Fort Scott Community College (Kansas), and he continued where he left in his freshman year: he recorded 70 tackles, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Garnered first team All-Jayhawk and first team little All-American honors following the 2008 season. So he played in small schools but he was very good in each year and each school!

Then he did the big step and chose to go to USF where he performed there too and began to show he is someone to watch for. He had a breakout season with 45 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks and had an interception returned for TD. He was named First Team All-American by Pro Football Weekly and received first team All-BIG EAST selections by the league’s coaches,, and the Sporting News. Before the season started if the commentators and experts spoke about USF and defensive end everybody talked about George Selvie. Not anymore, that’s how good Pierre-Paul performed. After a year like this, he declared (alongside with Selvie) to this years draft. I think it was a mistake by him. He clearly showed every year that he can play. But he is very raw and 1 more year in USF could made him more NFL ready. [Terry: This has red flags all over it. Pay the guy $12 million and hope he shows up to play?  I am not so sure]

Now let’s see his strengths. He has a very quick first step; flexible and balanced. He is aggressive in pursuit and will chase down runners from behind. He can play (and played) both end positions and even outside linebacker. He had very strong hands; once he is motivated, he plays in a very high level and has great counter moves. I think with a good strength coach (which the Jaguars have in Luke Richesson) he can be “built” to be even better. We can say he is an impressive all-around athlete.

Now let’s see his weaknesses: Playing 2 years in a relatively small school comes with a price. He is very very raw! He must be taught for lot of things by the team’s coaches who select him. Luckily Jack Del Rio is working really well with young players and now with new defensive line coach Joe Cullen; there is someone who can teach him to be a successful pass rusher in the NFL. He often struggled against the run and sometimes he can disappear and battles with inconsistency. He is a finesse player with sometimes a little bit too finesse and sometimes lacks of be more aggressive. He must learn to use hands to keep blockers off his legs. At this time he does not have the strength to hold-up against NFL blockers for an entire game, much less an entire season. However, he does have the work ethic to get bigger and stronger. No matter who will selecting him, they need to help/work with him much more than most of the other possible 1st rounder prospects. To be a successful player good coaching is extremely important for him.

So as we can see the picture is mixed. He is a very risky pick (another flag for Gene Smith); with great upside. Both also he has a really big bust potential as well. It might sound cliché, but this time is true: either he can be by far the best pass rusher of this draft class or a Jarvis Moss/Vernon Gholston category bust (“honorable” mention to Derrick Harvey sadly). I think he is another player you can’t expect too much in his rookie year (another flag for Gene Smith I think) but with good coaching he can show his upside in the second half of his rookie season/second year why he was drafted.

My personal take is he is raises more question marks than Derrick Morgan.  I think he is a very high risk/reward player and I do not see him as a Top 10th/11th worthy in my opinion. The Jaguars must hit a homerun with a plug-in/NFL ready player which is not the case right now with Pierre-Paul. I only see him as a potential candidate to become the 1st round choice of the Jaguars if Gene Smith could trade down 5-8 places. But then other players like Mike Iupati; Earl Thomas or Carlos Dunlap might be more attractive for the Jaguars than him.

The final verdict will be his combine and Pro-day workout but opposite to Derrick Morgan (who might need to perform there good/well) I think he must have a lights out performance there to help himself. Right now he would not be my Top 10th-11th pick.

(Part III with Florida DE Carlos Dunlap soon can be read on Black and Teal)

Zoltan Paksa

Terry’s take: Another great piece of work by Zoltan and a correct assessment as well. We may kick ourselves for passing on this guy but he does not seem like a guy Gene will take.  The second round is where guys with top talent but big questions are selected. Second round guys have more motivation because they didn’t cash in big like first rounders and must play for the next contract. I worry this candidate will get paid and disappear. It happens a lot with top rookies and this player scenario has that feel to it.  I vote to pass as well.