Tag:Jason Pierre-Paul
Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Ivory, Lee stand out in impressive week for rooks

The 2010 NFL season has been a strong one overall for rookies. This isn't a surprise considering the amount of hype that the group enjoyed prior to the draft.

Two players who didn't gain a great deal of attention, however, were among the rookies who most stood out this past weekend.

Undrafted free agent Chris Ivory enjoyed another strong performance for the Saints, overtaking No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh to be recognized for the third time this year. He rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' 34-30 win at Cincinnati. The highlight of Ivory's afternoon was a career-long 55 yard run in the second quarter that was the first touchdown scored by either team.

Other offensive players whose play stood out this week included Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams, and fellow Buc LaGarrette Blount (running back).

While the Cowboys' Sean Lee , as a second round pick, certainly entered the league with a much higher profile than Ivory, the success of the Cowboys' flashy first rounder Dez Bryant and Lee's long recovery from a 2008 ACL surgery made him one of the "quieter" high profile selections in Dallas history. The former Penn State star has flashed during his rookie season but remains a backup behind veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James for the Cowboys.

Lee's play against the Colts spoke volumes, however. Lee victimized Peyton Manning for two of the All-Pro's four interceptions in this game, returning the first 31 yards to score his first NFL touchdown. Lee's second came in overtime, putting the Cowboys in position to kick the winning field goal. He also tied his previous career-high with five tackles on the day.

Among the other defenders whose play stood out this weekend was the Giants' pass rusher (and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Week) Jason Pierre-Paul, Cincinnati's Carlos Dunlap, New England inside linebacker Brandon Spikes and a trio of cornerbacks - Cleveland's Joe Haden, Kansas City's Javier Arenas, and the Patriots' Devin McCourty.


Posted on: December 1, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Bradford, Pierre-Paul earn Rookies of the Week

There have been few weeks this season easier to pick out my NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Week than this past weekend's action.

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford was spectacular in the Rams' defeat of the Denver Broncos. In completing 22 of 37 passes for 307 yards, a career high three touchdowns and zero interceptions, Bradford has passed the Rams into first place in the NFC West. St. Louis is currently tied with Seattle atop the divisional race at 5-6, but owns the tie-breaker after having beaten Seattle earlier this year.

The strong performance continues what has been a spectacular rookie campaign for Bradford. As Sports Illustrated's Peter King noted, Bradford appears well on his way towards unanimously winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award considering the spectacular performance he's put on lately while the Rams battled back into first place. Over the past six games, Bradford has completed 64.3% of his passes for 1,307 yards and a sparkling 11-1 TD to INT ratio.

This type of production is nothing new to  Bradford, of course, who used a dazzling 50-8 TD to INT ratio his sophomore season to win the Heisman Trophy and take Oklahoma to the 2009 BCS Championship game.

Unlike Bradford, who has started every game for the Rams, the Giants' first round pick, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had struggled to make a consistent impact this year.

Playing against a Jacksonville team that many thought would consider Pierre-Paul (and ultimately selected defensive lineman Tyson Alualu), the former South Florida product was spectacular, doubling his previous career highs in tackles (eight, including six solos) as well as registering the first two sacks and forced fumbles (two) of his young career.

While I was among Pierre-Paul's biggest critics heading into the draft, Pierre-Paul deserves credit for his breakout performance. The Giants, blessed with one of the league's best collections of pass rushers, have often moved Pierre-Paul inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs. There, Pierre-Paul's marginal hand technique and marginal strength is exposed and his best attribute -- his spectacular speed and overall athleticism -- has been more easily contained by opponents. This, of course, wasn't the case against an injury-depleted Jacksonville offensive line.

It is worth noting, however, that prior to Pierre-Paul's strong game against the Jags, he'd recorded only 11 tackles in 11 games.

Pierre-Paul's stellar play beat out New England cornerback Darius Butler, who on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions put on a show. McCourty's two interceptions in the Pats' 45-24 road victory showed off the athleticism, IQ and ball skills that made him one of the best all-around corners in the 2011 draft.


Posted on: August 16, 2010 11:23 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 11:42 pm
 

Giants' WR Cruz steals rookie spotlight on MNF

For all of the talk about high profile rookies leading up the Gotham showdown between the New York Jets and New York Giants for tonight's Monday Night Football game, it was an undrafted wide receiver that stole the show.

Victor Cruz, an undrafted receiver from the University of Massachusetts, caught six passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns against Rex Ryan's Jets that, along with Eli Manning's gash , made the opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium memorable.

It wasn't just that Cruz was productive. It was the spectacular fashion with which he did so that will be catching the attention of every NFL team.

Cruz's first touchdown -- an eye-popping one-handed grab over tight coverage supplied by Jets' cornerback Dwight Lowery -- went for 64 yards. Only moments later, he caught his second score from Giants' backup Jim Sorgi. This one went for 34 yards. Not finished yet, Cruz caught his third touchdown in less than nine minutes of game-time with a 5-yard toss from Rhett Bomar.

Cruz, who was not invited to the Combine despite earning First-Team All-CAA honors in 2009,  has been impressive throughout training camp. He quickly moved up the UMass receiving records list, catching all but one of his 131 passes for 1,958 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Ironically enough, Cruz entered the game not even the most hyped of the UMass rookies. The Jets, of course, spent their second round pick on Massachusetts' offensive lineman Vladimir DuCassse. DuCasse is expected to win the starting left guard position for the Jets.

As ESPN analyst Mike Tirico noted during the telecast, Cruz's big game was historic -- it was the first time a receiver caught three touchdowns in a game since some guy named Terrell Owens accomplished the feat for the 49ers in 1998.

As for the so-called star rookies...

Jets' first round pick Kyle Wilson was largely invisible, finishing with only one tackle. The Giants' first round pick, Jason Pierre Paul, flashed his burst and good flexibility in recording his first NFL sack, but also showed the poor football instincts and relative weakness at the point of attack that had led some scouts to rank him as the most overrated prospect heading into last April's draft.






Posted on: April 12, 2010 8:08 pm
 

DE Pierre-Paul draft's most overrated player


As we inch closer to the first primetime first round in NFL history, I continue to work the phone lines in an effort to best predict its outcome.

One of the more useful strategies I've come to rely on over the years is asking league sources to identify one or two players who are being severely overrated by the media.

Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell got several votes, but the player who received the vast majority of them was South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

Pierre-Paul's athleticism and lanky frame intrigue teams, but scouts are getting past the hypotheticals and are now focusing on the realities. Pierre-Paul started a total of seven games at the D-I level -- and these games weren't consecutive. In fact, the most games he started consecutively with the Bulls was the final three of his career.  Earlier in the year, he'd start a game or two and then get benched for a game or two. He didn't qualify academically out of high school, played at two different junior colleges (College of the Canyons and Fort Scott Community College) and obviously left after only one season at South Florida. Furthermore, while his statistics with the Bulls (45 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) are impressive considering his relative lack of starting time, scouts attribute at least some of his success to playing opposite an established pass rush threat in George Selvie and being protected by legitimate NFL talent in the secondary behind him.

Scouts don't question his upside, but tell me that Pierre-Paul is "at least" one year away from being a major contributor to an NFL team. He lacked the strength and toughness last year to provide much in terms of run defense for the Bulls and really disappointed at the Combine, struggling during interviews by showing very little understanding of basic football principles.

Considering the value of pass rushers, scouts still thought Pierre-Paul would "probably" make the first round, but weren't certain what teams could afford to devote millions to such a project.
"I wouldn't even use a second round pick on the guy," said one high ranking team official. "You see flashes, sure, but [the team that drafts him] had better keep things simple. Don't ask him to know gap assignments. Don't ask him to really play football. Just rush the passer."
Posted on: February 23, 2010 6:49 pm
 

Combine Surprise Team

Everyone knows that CJ Spiller is going to run well and that Ndamukong Suh is strong. For other standouts, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter did a nice job of previewing the Combine here.

I wanted to pass along a few of my thoughts, as well.

My Combine Surprise Team list isn't designed to predict which players will post the fastest times in the 40-yard dash (Jacoby Ford) per position or lift the 225 pound bar (Mike Neal) the most times.

It is, instead, a peek ahead to prospects I feel will boost their stock due to all-around strong performances at the Combine.



QB - Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State: Better athleticism than most think and he'll impress with his accuracy
RB - Lonyae Miller, Fresno State: Don't be surprised if Ryan Mathews' backup runs better than most of the other backs tested.
TE - Andrew Quarless: Speed and vertical jump will surprise. Has to catch the ball cleanly.
WR - Taylor Price, Ohio: Watch this kid run his way into the second round.
OT - Selvish Capers, West Virginia: Capers may have struggled in Mobile, but the former TE's athleticism will be on display this week. 
OG -  Marshall Newhouse, TCU: Amongst a relatively unathletic group, Newhouse, a former LT, could stand out.
C -  Matt Tennant, Boston College: Like guards, the 2010 center class doesn't possess many standout athletes, but Tennant's light feet should impress.

DE -  Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida: At 6-6, 260 pounds, Pierre-Paul can backflip his way onto a gymnastics team . How that translates into sacking the quarterback I don't know, but it does speak to his unique athleticism.
(Okay, so Pierre-Paul isn't really much of a surprise. I just wanted an excuse to put up the youtube video. Here is another defensive end to keep an eye on)
DE - Kevin Basped, Nevada: For a kid with his lanky (6-6, 240) frame, Basped is going to surprise people with his strength.
DT - Mike Neal, Purdue: Remember the old Bill Parcells NFL video, "This is why you lift all them weights..." ? Neal does. 
ILB - Donald Butler, Washington: Among the more athletic linebackers no one is talking about.
OLB - Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota: The scouts know about undersized OLBs Rennie Curran, Dekoda Watson and Harry Coleman. They'll know Lawrence's name after this week too. 
CB - Joshua Moore, Kansas State: Nationally underrated corner jumps into primetime this week. 
S - Chad Jones, LSU: I've spoken to scouts who feel Jones is one of the ten best all-around athletes in the draft. Hefty praise considering Jones measures in around 6-3, 230... 



Posted on: February 23, 2010 6:37 pm
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Posted on: February 23, 2010 1:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2010 1:49 pm
 

DE Derrick Morgan plans to work out in Indy

Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan is planning to work out at the Combine in his attempt to secure the title as the top-rated pass rusher of the 2010 draft.

I spoke to Derrick a bit ago in preparation for a future article. The defending ACC Defensive Player of the Year is eager to show off what he can do, especially after a not so-splashy final performance in the 24-14 loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Morgan, who posted 55 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and a 12.5 sacks on the year, was limited to "only" three tackles and .5 tackles for loss against Iowa's stellar offensive line.

Morgan credited Hawkeye left tackle Bryan Bulaga as having a good game, but also was quick to point out that his lack of big numbers wasn't a big concern to either he or those close to the Tech program.

"My not having a monster game, individually, was not a big deal," Morgan said. "Our focus was to play good team defense, which doesn't always result in one player getting big numbers. I think we defended them well. We just came up short in that game."

South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may pose the biggest challenge to Morgan as the top pass rusher of the draft. The 6-6, 265 pound Pierre-Paul has an explosive first step and very long arms, two qualities which scouts feel make him an ideal weak-side pass rusher. He is also expected to work out exceedingly well -- perhaps better than Morgan.

Where Morgan stands out is in his ability to hold up nicely against the run. Morgan locates the ball quickly and hustles to it, whereas Pierre-Paul, at least at this point, lacks the functional strength and instincts teams are looking for in an everydown defensive end.

Pierre-Paul may have more upside, but Morgan is the more polished player at this point -- which is why he ranks as the No. 1 defensive end on my board.



 
 
 
 
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