Jason Pierre-Paul Brings More Questions Than Answers

Giants first-round pick hasn't played much football

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    It's hard to know what to make of the Giants' decision to draft South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul with the 15th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

    Maybe they were just starved for attention after spending the offseason shivering in the shadow cast by the Jets and wanted to do something splashy to get people talking about them again.

    Perhaps they just discovered YouTube, saw the video of Pierre-Paul doing backflips and couldn't resist getting in on the viral video craze. Or maybe Jerry Reese really thinks that you can run a defense with nothing but defensive ends.

    He's now got four of them, assuming he sticks to his vow not to trade Umenyiora, and Pierre-Paul is the rawest and least ready to play of the lot. That's an odd route to go for a team whose defense fell apart last season, especially if you assume that the Giants don't want to be in the habit of drafting in the first half of the first round.

    Pierre-Paul certainly has potential. He showed a lot of speed, strength and effort in his one year at South Florida. History tells us, however, that players who shared Pierre-Paul's route to the NFL -- two junior colleges and one year of real ball -- don't fare all that well at the highest level. Football Outsiders recently unveiled SackSEER, a system aimed at projecting production among college players. It's been pretty good at identifying busts and no one ranks lower in this year's draft than Pierre-Paul.

    It's not foolproof, of course, so let's instead focus on the Giants' steadfast refusal to admit they have actual holes that need filling on their team. Defensive end ranked fairly low on that list, especially a defensive end who is a one-dimensional pass rusher. They already have one of those in Umenyiora, albeit a petulant one who will probably be a big bowl of sunshine now that the Giants have brought in his replacement. They aren't trading Umenyiora, which means they believe he'll bounce back in 2010. If that's the case, why add to a strength when there are so many weaknesses?

    Reese's track record is good so this may seem like a major leap, but it feels a lot like something the Mets would do. For the last few years, the Mets have ignored safe players who would plug holes on their team to go on flights of fancy with players like Oliver Perez and Jason Bay. It hasn't worked out and they now barely resemble the team that was considered a long-term contender in 2006. The Giants won the Super Bowl on the back of a good pass rush, but they were a better overall team and haven't done enough to address the decay elsewhere on the roster.  

    Saying the Giants are heading in that direction is too rash, but it's hard to see the Pierre-Paul pick as anything other than buying a 55" flatscreen when your fridge is down to pickled watermelon rind and a flat bottle of Fanta.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.