Giant step: USF's Pierre-Paul goes 15th to N.Y.
"We feel he has the highest upside of any player in the draft," Giants general manager Jerry Reese told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday night.
Pierre-Paul is only the second first-round pick for the Bulls, following cornerback Mike Jenkins, who went to the Cowboys in 2008. The Giants had shown significant interest in Pierre-Paul -- head coach Tom Coughlin was one of three head coaches at USF's pro day last month.
The pick concludes a whirlwind year for Pierre-Paul, who was in junior college last spring and made a huge impact in his only year at USF, earning first-team all-conference honors after getting 16.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks for the Bulls. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Pierre-Paul is one of the most athletic players in the draft, capable of doing a standing back-flip in pads.
"We're happy and excited for him," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "I've had the opportunity to spend time with him, and I've been really impressed with him as a young man. It speaks volumes for where this program has come, and Coach (Jim) Leavitt did a great job of building this program. ... I think it's a great day for South Florida football."
Pierre-Paul, the son of Haitian immigrants, will play in the city that has the largest concentration of Haitians in the United States, with more than 200,000 Haitians in the city's five boroughs. He watched the draft from Miami Beach, where he was seen on ESPN and NFL Network celebrating with his fiance, former USF basketball player Melissa Dalembert, and his agent Drew Rosenhaus.
(Photo of Pierre-Paul, Dalembert and his mother, Marie Pierre-Paul, from the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach, from Michael Loughlin, Sun-Sentinel)