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"Project Pick" Jason Pierre-Paul
The Giants have built their defensive unit around being able to pressure opposing QBs by rushing just four. So it's not surprising that pass-rushers are always a need. This is why three of 10 picks in the first and second rounds have been used to gather more pressure creators.
That said, many people were shocked, some angry, when Jerry Reese "wasted" a first-round selection on Jason Pierre-Paul, especially since the roster already included three tremendous pass rushers in Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. Couple that with the fact that Mike Iupati (G) and Sean Weatherspoon (LB) were still on the board, both high-quality players of positions that were perceived as more of a need than DE.
Although both Iupati and Weatherspoon have turned out to be good players, neither were the force that JPP was in 2011.
Jerry Reese say something in JPP that was rare and possibly freakish. His athleticism outweighed how raw he was; his strength and explosiveness outweighed his lack of knowledge of the game. Now, looking back, this pick has cemented Reese as a Giant fan favorite. It is also the pick that caused people to say Reese will always select best available over need.
It wasn't only JPP's talents that caught Reese's eye, though. DE was actually a need. And nobody knew that except Jerry Reese.
Umenyiora and Reese have a tumultuous relationship, one where Reese never wants to give him more money. It is because of this Reese knows the Giants are in danger of losing him at any time. Along with the drama that always surrounds Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka suffered a neck injury, and his full-strength return was questionable. Even if he returned, he may be shifted to LB.
There was an outside chance that, had Reese not drafted JPP, the starting DE's in Week 1 could have been Justin Tuck and Dave Tollefson, who is a great backup and rotational player but a huge drop-off from JPP, Osi or Kiwi.
Add to the first two rounds Marvin Austin and Linval Joseph, who were also a mix of best available and need, as the Giants needed to replace a mostly ineffective Jay Alford and an aging Fred Robbins. Again, these selections were disguised as best available talent picks, but in reality, they were also needs.
Joseph had a good season last year; at times, he showed flashes of brilliance. Austin spent the year on IR, but in limited preseason action, looked like an animal who will eventually stand alongside Joseph as the future of the Giants interior defensive line.