Giants' Pierre-Paul a super draft choice

Posted: February 01, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - Not to keep beating a dead horse, but hell, let's.

Long story short, 2 years ago, the Eagles traded up to the 13th spot in the first round of the draft. Wanted a defensive end. Had a choice between the freakishly-athletic-but-relatively-inexperienced Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida, and steady-Eddie-productive Brandon Graham of Michigan.

The Eagles opted for Graham. Their division rival, the Giants, who they hopped over to grab Graham, happily took Pierre-Paul.

Graham tore his ACL late in his rookie season and needed microfracture surgery. He's played in just 16 games in 2 years and has three career sacks.

Pierre-Paul, meanwhile, whose team will face the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, recorded 16 1/2 sacks this season, earned a Pro Bowl invitation and stands an excellent chance to win the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year award on Saturday night.

"Jason Pierre-Paul was a real easy pick for us," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said yesterday. "His skill set was so superior to most players that you see at his position or any position. We felt he had the highest ceiling of any player at any position in the draft.

"Why wouldn't you want to coach a guy like that? His football instincts, for a guy who hadn't played a lot at a high [college] level, it was a really easy pick for us."

Because he had only played 1 year of Division-I ball, many teams, including the Eagles, considered Pierre-Paul a bit of a risk. A boom-or-bust type of player. Some teams also suggested Pierre-Paul had some off-the-field issues, though no one's ever said what those were. Reese said the Giants had no off-the-field questions about the kid.

"All players are risks when you draft them," Reese said. "It's not science. Sometimes, they can play at a high level in college for 4 years and it can look like a duck, quack like a duck, walk like a duck. Then you get them out on Sunday in the National Football League and it's not a duck, even though it looked just like a duck when you scouted it."

There is no question that Pierre-Paul is a duck. An All-Pro one. Maybe Graham will be one too, some day. Maybe not.

Asked about the Eagles' decision to take Graham over Pierre-Paul, Reese said, "Everybody likes different [ice cream] flavors. Everybody has their own rules, their own organization, their own scouting process. I'm not surprised by anything that happens in the draft.

"All I know is we were definitely happy he was still there. But he's still a young player. They don't have a bust of him in Canton waiting for him. He's still got a lot to learn. But he has come a long way in a short time, and we think he's barely scratched the surface at this point."

And isn't that a comfort to Eagles fans on these chilly winter nights.

The Giants and Eagles share an appreciation for the importance of being able to get pressure on the quarterback. But they differ on the type of player they prefer for the job. The Eagles like fast, undersized edge-rushers. The Giants like their defensive ends a little sturdier.

"The late [Giants player personnel director] Tom Boisture, when I was a young scout, one thing he impressed upon me was, 'Jerry, we're the Giants. You gotta have big people [up front],' " Reese said. "That's one thing that always resonated with me. If you don't have big people, you're going to get run over in this league.

"We like multitalented, versatile players. Our guys are interchangeable in a lot of ways. They can play all over the place. We like those kinds of players. It gives our defensive coordinator and our defensive staff flexibility to come up with different schemes, to attack different ways."

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