Friday, April 23, 2010

Giants: First round pick JPP

I'm not going to use revisionist analysis and all of a sudden proclaim that I love this pick of Jason Pierre-Paul. I don't, for all the reasons that I mentioned in my comments to the previous post. The biggest mistakes in the draft come from scouts falling in love with player's results at the combine, where they somehow show ridiculous athletic ability that exceeds their on-field performance. Conversely, the draft is replete with guys that did not show freakish athleticism, or had moderate times in the 40 and therefore slipped later in the draft, only to become excellent players. Jerry Rice comes to mind as an example of this latter category, someone whose 40 time was much lower than his football speed. Rod Smith is another WR in this category who was actually undrafted and will probably be a HOF candidate. In the former category - players that wowed the scouts with their pure athletic skill but were not football players, you don't need to go back much further than the last few drafts of the Oakland Raiders. They took Darrius Heyward-Bey who has incredible straight line speed and Jamarcus Russell whose arm is as powerful as a MIRV missile and apparently about as accurate. (Editor's note: MIRV missiles were a category of offensive nuclear weapon called multiple reentry missiles. The idea was to load a rocket with multiple warheads as a first strike, offensive weapon and when the rocket re-entered the atmosphere and approached the target, multiple warheads would be delivered in a somewhat random pattern across the target area. Accuracy was less important in this weapon, hence my rather lame comparison of MIRVs and Jamarcus' arm.) Frankly, this is why the Giants stuck to their guns and drafted Hakeem Nicks last year at WR. They loved him (accurate judgment imho) because of the play making ability he showed ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD. His 40 time was good enough, but somewhat pedestrian and certainly not eye-catching. They scouted a football player on the field in his time at UNC and they were right in their evaluation.

Anyway - you get the point - players can rise or fall on the basis purely of their athletic performance, while the actual production and performance on the field is ignored or at least minimized in value. Ryan Leaf had a stronger arm than Peyton Manning. Enough said. My concern with Jason Pierre-Paul is exactly that - his athleticism supersedes his football skill. He is a freak of an athlete - good size, strong hands, great speed and a frame that could carry a few extra pounds. But he only started playing football in his junior year in HS and was not recruited to a major college program. He spent time in junior college, where of course his dominance was predictable and he played only one year at the Division I level. He did well at USF, but because of his inexperience there, he did not even start every game in college. Generally, someone who has two years at the junior college/community college level and only one year experience at Division I, would stay for two years in college, build some experience, learn the game, enhance his credentials and enter the draft after his senior year. My suspicion is that with the expectation, or at least possibility that 2011 will be a lockout and further, that the next CBA will have some kind of rookie salary cap, JPP was encouraged and strongly incented to come out this year. With all that, in the best case his athletic talent may give him an opportunity to be a good player, but expecting him to contribute strongly in 2010 might be a stretch.

That's the bad news; the pessimistic view of drafting a great athlete instead of a football player. Let me put on my rose colored glasses and explain that there is a positive side to it as well. For one thing, with a name like Pierre-Paul, I figure he's got a great recipe for brioche that he can share with us. Furthermore, I guess we have to have some faith and confidence in the Giants scouting and drafting department because they have not had many (any?) draft busts in a long time. Another accomplished DE was on the board, available for them to pick in Derrick Morgan and they excitedly and eagerly opted to take JPP. They did scout him on the field at USF and they are making a positive assessment of him based on his performance on the field, not only on his ability to do back flips. There is no denying that he is a freak of an athlete, combining incredible speed and strength. He even showed that he can play the run in his time at USF and the Giants are not taking him because he was just the best player left with limited talent. They really love him and think that he can become a dominant game changing player for them. In the end, every player taken in the first round has boom-or-bust capability. Even the so called can't-miss players sometimes miss, regardless of position. The Giants scouting department scouted him and evaluated him carefully - let's hope they're right.


Ray said...

Don't forget Rocky Thompson and Henri Carr ad prior NYG busts who had no football skills/background but who did have great speed.

wolfman said...

Somehow I think you, me and only 1 or 2 others on this blog remember these draft picks. Don't forget Tucker Frederickson, though he was a good player, had an injury shortened career and the Giants passed on Gale Sayers to take him.