This week we are taking a temporary break from the draft so that we may examine the opening week of free agency and some potential fits for the Dallas Cowboys. I hope you had a chance to look at yesterday's profile on Dolphins RB Lamar Miller. I think he could really be a nice fit with the Cowboys, but the question will be the price (as it always is in this free agency conversation) and whether they wish to invest heavily in a RB.
Today, however, I thought I would take a chance on looking at someone who maybe isn't top of mind for potential future Cowboys.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants, 6'5, 278, 27 Years Old
Jason Pierre-Paul is on the streets looking for a job right now. The Giants have made a point to tell him they would be interested in keeping him on a one-year deal, but they are no doubt looking to get some of the 2015 money back after a very tumultuous season for the man who took a really wrong turn on the Fourth of July, when he engaged in some firework fun that turned into a serious injury and cost him his index finger and part of his thumb.
The subsequent couple months were incredibly odd as the team and the player were separated and questions about his health were everywhere. He eventually played again in November and December under some variation of the franchise tag (even though he had refused to sign it -- like Dez Bryant except with a major off-field injury) and certainly had mixed results in his return.
So now, this man is on the street as a guy who just turned 27 and has had a few monster seasons and a back surgery along with his new hand situation which absolutely affects his performance as an edge rusher in the NFL.
What does this all mean to the Cowboys? Well, first, it probably means that he is in the price range of a team like Dallas that was looking through the bargain bin for Greg Hardy a year ago and were able to get him on a one-year deal. If in perfect condition, Hardy and Pierre Paul at their ages would require 5-year deals for $60 million. But, because of Hardy's suspension and because of JPP's Fourth of July, perhaps something significantly smaller is in play.
Further, Pierre-Paul is a left defensive end now with the Giants which may be a preference or a necessity (you can argue both ways) based on his 2015. But, every Cowboys fan knows that A) the Cowboys need to fill this position and B) there is no player that has routinely beaten the amazing Tyron Smith than JPP. In other words, this guy has top-end ability and you might be able to get him for a lot less than you ever imagined to play a position that you need to fill.
So, like yesterday, I just grabbed three games from December and to see how JPP looks, because if you just look at the stats, he had one sack in 2015 and will not impress you with that production. Is he done? Can he no longer get to the QB? Or is he ready to take over games again?
So here is that one sack from his 2015. As you can see, it is pretty text-book JPP as he is left in the open field to deal with Cam Newton on a bootleg and is able to keep him from getting away and then pouncing in that athletic way we have come to expect. This was a good place to start in our study. He looks like JPP to me.
Robert Ayers gets this sack, but look at JPP with the right tackle 68-Giacomini and how he overpowers him and simply walks him back into the QB. He simply overmatched this man with his power and his ability to get the RT on skates and walking right back into the passer. It was pretty impressive to see.
Someone tried to tell me that they aren't sure that JPP was playing hard, so that was something that I was really looking at. Has he made enough money that he is going through the motions - Mario Williams is facing those charges right now, but we know Mario has made much more money than Pierre-Paul. But, I saw more than a few plays that show JPP is playing very hard. His motor runs red.
Look at this one if you wonder about his effort level. Is he getting down the field to make plays? Is he playing through the whistle? This was not an issue at all.
The other thing that is said about him is that he is not very good against the run. In three games, I didn't see hardly any runs right at JPP. But, there were many times where they would try to challenge his pursuit and quickness. He didn't get every play made, but this one shows how eager he is to get in on a stop. He is a flash of a man at 280. They don't all move this fast.
Here is another one where he is the DE in the bind and they are trying to test his reaction time and his athleticism and again he shuts that down quickly. Even after all of the wear and tear on his body, he is showing he is not having any issues out on the flank running guys down. He is still quite impressive.
Again, zone away, backside cut. Will Pierre Paul be engaged and will he make the play. Check. He is in to it. Now, this is what you will want a proper LDE to do against the run and he is showing this is not some Achilles heel that has been thrown around.
But one sack? What do we do with a guy who had one sack in 2015?
Well, if you dig a little deeper, he was still all over the QB hurries charts. This is a dangerous stat and a subjective one, but when a guy has multiple big sack seasons, we are able to realize he can get to the QB and maybe if we watch him play, we will see that he was very close to a bunch more and it is not a massive concern -- especially if you don't need him to beat left tackles, but rather push him over to deal with much lesser players at right tackle.
Here he uses his inside out move to turn the corner just as Newton steps up in the pocket. But look at the motor and the interest in staying after it until the whistle. This is promising.
How about this? Right tackle is on roller skates right back into the lap of the QB. JPP still has plenty of this power in his bag.
So he has the power, what about that trademarked quickness around the edge? You know he has that. Look at the blur as again the QB steps up. But this is some elite traits and while you have to keep in mind he is not peak JPP, he is still very good and has everything you look for in a 10-sack guy in 2016.
Inside push and collapse the pocket again. Converting power to speed and speed to power. It is all a rather impressive skill set, and once I was convinced he is still playing hard, I have no problem saying I would give this guy a serious phone call.
Obviously, the price has to be right, but much like yesterday, if you are worried about taking a DE high in the draft because you need one for right now, I ask who is more ready to play right now than Jason Pierre-Paul? Now, he may wish to get the most money and return to his Florida roots, but if the question is whether the Cowboys should show interest and an aggressive offer for the damaged goods with the Giants -- well, the tape says he is still quite a player.