Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jason Pierre-Paul a day from making USF draft history

TAMPA — Of all the football experts who have projected USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul as a first-round NFL draft pick, perhaps the first was Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who didn't hesitate in his evaluation after the Bulls beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee in September.

"Yeah, (No.) 90 is a definite first-round guy, I think," Trickett said two days after USF's win, back when many didn't know Pierre-Paul by name, much less reputation.

On Thursday night, after just one year of major college football, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound pass-rusher will likely be taken in the middle of the first round, becoming USF's highest-ever draft pick and the second first-rounder in the program's 13 years.

"It would mean a lot, to be the highest pick," Pierre-Paul said after he worked out in March for 50-plus NFL scouts on USF's campus as part of what should be the deepest Bulls draft class.

Safety Nate Allen and cornerback Jerome Murphy are expected to be taken in the first three rounds. Receiver Carlton Mitchell, a junior from Gaither, could go by then and, in one draft, the Bulls could have more players taken in the first three rounds than in all previous drafts combined. Defensive end George Selvie and linebacker Kion Wilson are also potential draft picks.

"When I first got here, I remember saying the Class of '05, we were going to change everything," Murphy said. "We've come a long way, but now some of us will be playing against each other in the league."

Pierre-Paul stands out from the group, perhaps from the entire draft, because he hasn't come a long way. His phenomenal athletic ability — he can do a standing backflip in pads, and a popular YouTube video shows him casually doing 14 back-handsprings in a row — has impressed NFL scouts enough to be a potential top-10 pick. That's rare for someone with only one year in the spotlight, with 6.5 sacks last season after spending two seasons at junior colleges in California and Kansas.

But he showed plenty at USF. He was named first-team all-Big East even over Selvie, a former consensus All-American. Pierre-Paul forced a key fumble against FSU and returned an interception for a touchdown at Syracuse. His long arms and quick first step caused problems for quarterbacks.

The JPP-mania boiled over this spring. At one point, several mainstream mock drafts had him going No. 3 to the Bucs. Now the highest projection is eighth to Oakland. Pierre-Paul didn't hurt himself at the combine, registering an unofficial 40-yard time of 4.64 seconds. He's versatile enough that some teams think he could play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

The most common match for Pierre-Paul is Tennessee, which picks 16th and is expected to take a defensive end early in the draft. In the past week, he has visited the Giants (15th) and 49ers (13th and 17th).

Even the low projections for Pierre-Paul rave about his potential. One mock draft this week had him going 32nd to New Orleans with the final pick of the first round, but said the Saints could turn him into an "elite rusher." Life is good when the worst scenario has you as the top pick of the Super Bowl champions.

"I don't really care where I go. I just want to play football," said Pierre-Paul, who was not invited to New York for the draft. "I'm ready. Put me on the field and see what I can do."

Times staff writer Greg Auman can be reached at and at (813) 226-3346.

Jason Pierre-Paul a day from making USF draft history 04/20/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 22, 2010 6:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return


    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits


    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

    "That …

    Colby Rasmus collects high fives and shoulder rubs after driving in all four of the Rays’ runs in their victory Thursday. Rasmus had two run-scoring hits a day after hitting a home run.
  5. Rays at Twins, 8:10 p.m. Friday, Minneapolis

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Twins

    8:10, Target Field, Minnesota

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (3-3, 3.76)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)