The modern NFL is a changed game from what it once was. Rule changes, play calling and a thrill-seeking fanbase have given rise to an age of high-flying offensive powerhouses and quarterbacks who throw the ball 50 times a game.
With the top quarterbacks now capable of putting up video game numbers on a weekly basis, pass-rushers have become the NFL's new defensive elite. Though the league is strewn with fearsome pass-rushers, no player personifies the new breed of quarterback killers quite like Jason Pierre-Paul.
Pierre-Paul has a unique combination of power, length and freakish athletic ability that has changed the perception of what makes a good defensive end. With a growing need for defensive ends who can play multiple positions and match up with any member of an offensive line, JPP's talents have made him a force in the NFL virtually overnight.
At 6'5'', 278 pounds, Pierre-Paul has the power you would expect from a player his size, able to match up with guards along the interior and able to simply bull-rush to the quarterback. His speed is impressive for his size, which is a product of his absurd athleticism.
What really makes JPP dangerous when matching up with tackles on the outside, however, is his mind boggling 81-inch wingspan. (If you don't feel like doing math, his arms are nearly seven feet long.) The length of his arms allows him to keep tackles at bay during hand-to-hand combat off the snap, which gives him an extra opportunity to turn the corner before a lineman can square up to him.
His arms are what allowed him to block a game-tying field goal against the Cowboys in December, potentially preserving the entire season. When you add his physical abilities to a seemingly endless motor on the field, it makes you wonder how he only managed 16.5 sacks last season.
Pierre-Paul was one of the essential catalysts for the New York Giants' miraculous Super Bowl run last season, electrifying a defense that was being shredded week in and week out. JPP's value goes far beyond the 16.5 sacks and two forced fumbles he contributed; he energized a team that was at times playing like a group of sleepwalkers.
In the 2011 regular season, JPP produced a whopping 86 tackles, the most by any defensive lineman in the NFL and more than some starting middle linebackers. He simply chases down the ball carrier on every play, no matter what position they are.
Pierre-Paul rightfully made the Pro-Bowl for his 2011 campaign and was in consideration for Defensive Player of the Year; not bad for a second year guy who was supposed to be a development project behind Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck.
Yes, when the Giants drafted him with the 15th overall pick in 2010, Pierre-Paul was a raw prospect, a guy who had only played one full season of college ball and would be meant to replace Umenyiora or Tuck way down the line. Instead, he has exploded thanks to a DE-friendly scheme and his natural physical prowess.
The scariest thing about JPP is that he is still learning the pro game. This quarterback nightmare is still considered a raw player from a coaching standpoint,. If 16.5 sacks, 86 tackles, a Pro-Bowl and DPOY considerations represent a guy still learning how to play, what can we expect once he actually learns?
The sky is the only limit for JPP, and the smart money says he'll lead the league in sacks during the 2012 campaign and will probably be a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. If that doesn't add up to the most feared pass-rusher in the NFL, then Jared Allen must not have a mullet.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!