I will admit that when Roger Goodell announced Jason Pierre-Paul as the New York Giants' selection Thursday night, my reaction while sitting there was to lean back, exhale deeply and groan.
I was disappointed. As many of you made candidly, and in some cases crudely, obvious you were as well.
Yet, I have had a night to sleep on it. To get away from the initial anguish and think about it a tad more clearly. I trust you guys have also calmed down a bit, sobered up if necessary, and that this morning we can have a more rational discussion about the pick.
I was very clearly on the 'don't draft JPP' bandwagon. And very clearly of the opinion that if the Giants were going to draft a defensive end Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech was a much safer choice. Here is what I wrote about the buzz surrounding JPP in my Prospect Profile of him.
I don't truly understand it, but there are still a healthy number of mock drafts out there showing Pierre-Paul going to the Giants with the 15th pick of the first round -- if not earlier.
To me this is a tremendously raw "project" type of player who would fit either a) with a defensively stacked team that could afford to wait a year for him to develop, or b) with a bottom-feeder type team willing to gamble that Pierre-Paul will turn his potential into production after a year or two.
The Giants don't fit either of those categories.
As I distance myself from the emotion, though, I have to admit something. I actually kind of like this pick.
Do I know Pierre-Paul will be a great player? No. I have no idea. Then again, do I know for sure any player drafted Thursday night will be a great player? No. Again, no idea. None of them have put on a uniform yet, attended a rookie mini-camp, a training camp or played in a game.
We have absolutely no idea how any of this will turn out. And, in truth, despite what anyone says this morning it will be years before we know for sure whether this was the right move or the wrong one. Also, remember that Reese and the scouts have access to many things we don't, and that they know more about this than we do.
Reese used a baseball analogy in his pre-draft press conference the other day when he said "If we can hit home runs, that is good. If we can get a double, that is good. If we can get a single - we just want to get on base in the draft. We don't want to have a bunch of strikeouts."
This is what I really like about the selection of Pierre-Paul. With Rolando McClain and C.J. Spiller off the board, Reese still swung for the home run. There were safer options, and clearly selecting Morgan, Mike Iupati, Bryan Bulaga or a handful of other players who were still available might have been an easier pick for the fan base to swallow.
Yet, Reese did not do the safe thing and I admire him for it. To be great, you have to be willing to accept risk, to swing for the home run on occasion. It's how Ernie Accorsi swung the deal that brought Eli Manning to New York in 2004. Reese had the courage to go for greatness.
I am going to cherry pick one glowing comment from an NFL writer about the selection. And, yes, I know the reaction is mixed. From CBS Sports' Pete Prisco.
"This is the best pick of the first round. The Giants picked a star pass rusher. He will be a force. What a great pick. I love this pick more than any other. He will be a 12-15 sack player in a year."
Here is some of what Reese said about Pierre-Paul Thursday night.
"He's one of those guys where he has a lot of things you can't teach. He's a rare, gifted, talented kid. He is just uncommon, I think that's a good word to use to describe his skill set. He's long, fast, athletic, he has a great motor. ... This guy is really going to do a tremendous job coming in to help us rush the passer. ... All those kind of things he has, you know, it's hard to find a package like that. He has some freakish athletic skills that we're excited about. ... This was an easy pick for us."
Director of Scouting Marc Ross was also asked about the selection.
"He was a guy that during the season when I went to South Florida because I had four senior guys - where you put the tape on and you say, "Wow, who is the world is this guy?" Because you don't know anything about him; he just got there. But he makes you take notice because he is jumping off the film. ... this guy is a freak of nature, really, some of the stuff that he can do and the way he looks. He is just a different guy. He has done things that I haven't seen in scouting - in games - that I just haven't seen. ... when he learns how to really play, it is going to be "watch out." Because he does some things just naturally just playing - in your back yard just going. And when he really learns - when he gets his coaching and he keeps growing and developing like we think he will, he is going to be tremendous."
All we can do as fans is hope that Reese and Ross (the R&R boys?) are right. And give them credit for not being afraid to accept risk in the pursuit of greatness.
In Reese I Still Trust.