Though he didn’t go in the top 10 like agent Drew Rosenhaus expected, former USF star Jason Pierre-Paul still made history.
The 6-foot-5 defense end, who specializes in pass rushing, became the highest draft pick the Bulls have ever had, going No. 15 overall to the New York Giants and setting up a big weekend for the program. In all, five former players were drafted.
Before the draft, Pierre-Paul said “it would mean a lot” to be USF’s highest draft pick ever but assured everyone it didn’t matter where he went, as long he got a chance to prove himself in the NFL.
“I’m glad I’m a Giant,” Pierre-Paul said in a statement. “I was nervous at one point. I felt like I wasn’t going to get picked, and then I got a call from the New York Giants. I was surprised because I visited a lot of teams and I didn’t know who was going to pick me. I’m just glad I got picked. Now I get to come in, settle down and become a great football player.”
Pierre-Paul wasn’t the Giants’ first choice. The franchise aimed to select an elite middle linebacker, specifically Alabama’s Rolando McClain, to replace Antonio Pierce (released this offseason), but the Raiders unexpectedly took McClain with the eighth overall pick.
Pierre-Paul enters a group of quality ends – including Pro Bowlers Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, as well as Mathias Kiwanuka, who’s had 11 sacks the last two seasons – but the Giants still opted for a pure pass rusher to help alleviate concerns on a less-than-stellar defense last season.
“When you look at the New York Giants, they gave up 427 points on defense (last season),” said former Jets coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards. “… They needed a guy who can come off the edge. He’s a raw player … But this guy can rush the passer. He has great upside. The thing you have to do in the (NFL) is stop the pass. The way you do it is with good secondary players and pass rushers.”
Pierre-Paul is already listed behind Tuck as second on the Giants depth chart at left defensive end. Pierre-Paul said he’s well aware of the Giants’ depth at end, and he doesn’t consider himself “raw,” as some people say about him.
“When I’m on the field, I do know what I’m doing,” Pierre-Paul said to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, who covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be on the field, you know. I don’t consider myself raw because I know what I’m doing.
“For the last three years, everywhere I went, they called me raw. At times, they may call me raw, but in the future they will see that I know what I’m doing.”
Mitchell ‘blessed’ despite fall
Receiver Carlton Mitchell’s free fall to the sixth round wasn’t expected. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said the Browns, who also drafted former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy with the No. 85 overall pick, got one of the biggest steals of the draft.
“He’s got a similar skill set to Brandon Marshall,” he said. “… Carlton Mitchell’s got a lot of skills and to get him in the fifth or sixth round is pretty amazing. I thought he’d be a third rounder.”
Mitchell, who ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at USF Pro Day, joins an inexperienced receiving core.
“That’s what I was told,” Mitchell said to ClevelandBrowns.com about the prospect of playing early. “I was told this was the perfect team, the perfect fit for me, and honestly, I’m very excited. I feel very blessed to be in this situation, and I can’t wait to get there and start working.”
Allen ready to go in Philly
Essentially, the Philadelphia Eagles traded quarterback Donovan McNabb for Nate Allen, USF’s starting safety last season.
The Eagles selected Allen in the second round with the 37th overall pick, which they received in a deal with the Washington Redskins in exchange for McNabb, a potential Hall of Famer who has spent the last 11 years as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback.
“It’s an honor to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Donovan,” Allen said at a press conference. “I’m just going to come in and be myself and just try to help the Eagles win in whatever way I can.”
The Eagles drafted Allen to help fill a void at safety after releasing Brian Dawkins, who played 13 years for the team and has since signed with the Redskins. But there has been talk of moving Allen to cornerback, though Eagles coach Andy Reid said he will compete at safety and could be used in the nickel or dime formations, which use multiple defensive backs.
“What you have with him is a type of a player that has played corner and has played safety and can do either for you,” Reid said of Allen in an interview with PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “As he continues to recover and works his way in there, it gives you a little flexibility in the secondary.”
Selvie, Murphy join St. Louis
Former USF teammates defensive end George Selvie and cornerback Jerome Murphy were both selected by the St. Louis Rams. Selvie, arguably the most heralded player in program history, went in the seventh round at No. 226 overall, while Murphy was selected in the third round with the 65th pick.
“I’m just really glad to be picked,” Selvie said in a conference call with the media. “People say you might have (gone) higher. Well, ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ – it doesn’t matter now.”
Wilson signs with Chargers
Linebacker Kion Wilson and quarterback Matt Grothe weren’t drafted, but Wilson signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent, while Grothe is in talks with clubs about signing as a free agent.