The Falcoholic will periodically be looking at potential first round picks for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2010 NFL Draft. Today, South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Hey, a pass rusher! What a novel idea!
I've been tracking Jason Pierre-Paul for a while now, but with sister site—or brother site in high heels and eyeliner—Mocking The Draft giving us the South Florida product at #19, I thought I'd take a look at him. Bottom line? The sky is the limit for Pierre-Paul, but there's always the chance he gets sucked into a jet engine. Ouch.
The biggest issue with Pierre-Paul that's going to scare a lot of people away is his surface resemblance to Jamaal Anderson, another junior defensive end with a ton of promise who has thus far been an enormous disappointment in the NFL. Pierre-Paul has been playing defensive end longer than JA98, but his freshman and sophomore years were spent with JuCo schools. While Anderson racked up 17.5 sacks in his brief career at Arkansas, Pierre-Paul had 6.5 this past season, his last before entering the NFL draft.
So why is everyone so high on this guy? He's probably the best pure pass rusher in the draft, from a speed and talent perspective, and scouts are salivating over what he might be able to do with a few more pounds on his frame and some work with an NFL coaching staff. He learns quickly and turns the corner like Pac-Man after a blue ghost. Effort has never been a question and likely never will be, as he pours into tackles.
Downsides? He's exceedingly raw, has a lot of learning to do against the run and needs to get stronger to deal with your two-ton NFL tackles. While he has no problem hitting people, his tackling form will have to improve if he's going to bring down running backs. To put it bluntly, he's very one dimensional at this stage of his career. The fact that he's widely projected to go in the first round should tell you just how good a pass rusher he could be.
That alone makes him a potential fit for the Falcons, who at this point can't be blamed for the fact that Anderson never developed. Given that they've been able to maximize the talent of Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury showed promise last season, I'm pretty comfortable they'd squeeze the talent out of Pierre-Paul. If he adds 10 pounds, hits the weight room hard and listens to the coaching staff, he could be an amazing player at the NFL level, with the potential to hit double-digit sacks without blinking. The question is whether the Falcons want an arguably more polished player (Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Graham) or are willing to swing for the fences on a guy who may take a little longer to bring along. It's a tough call, really, but it'd be hard not to be excited about Pierre-Paul's potential.