For all my coverage of the 2010 NFL Draft as a fully credentialed member of the media, including links to videos from Radio City Music Hall and links to various radio interviews, head to ThunderingBlurb.com .
Since I'm now located on the East Coast, I've been following East Coast college football teams much more closely than I have in the past.
Of course, you'd have had to be blind to miss Rutgers recent rise to prominence (hence the rumors they are the target of a pilfering attempt by the Big Ten) no matter where you lived. But there's a lot more to the conference than meets the eye, as I discovered when I moved back to NY.
The NFL has taken notice as well.
This year, 18 players from the Big East Conference were drafted and a slew of others were picked up as street free agents.
Today we'll take a look at the ones who went in round one and examine what their landing spot might mean for their success in the league.
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers - Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers at 1-11.
A long time before the 2010 NFL Draft I did an article on Bleacherreport.com which hoped that the 49ers would 1) end up with at least one if not two offensive linemen and 2) that Anthony Davis would be one of them.
For a while, Davis' stock rose enough that—coupled with rumors that as many as seven (!) offensive tackles would go before the 49ers picked—it looked unlikely.
The team must have felt the same way. Which is why when Davis was still on the board at 11, they jumped at the chance to swap spots with Denver and finally secured a player who can take over the tackle spot opposite Joe Staley.
While both his run and pass blocking abilities are very good, Davis will need to work on being a little more aggressive and nasty in the trenches. If anyone can get that out of Davis, it will be his new Head Coach Mike Singletary. Davis is the big, physical player they have lacked on the right side for years and it was the 49ers' biggest need to fill.
Davis is incredibly quick off the snap, allowing him to catch pass rushers coming in off the edge. His speed also allows him to quickly get to the second level on rush plays and get a good lick on a linebacker before the ball carrier arrives.
Davis' speed, quickness and strength will be a tremendous asset to his new team and if Singletary can push Davis to reach his maximum potential, they will have a linchpin on the once sieve-like right side who is stout enough to be a very good run blocker and has the athleticism and agility to be outstanding in pass protection as well.
Paired with the pick of Iowa Guard Mike Iupati, the 49ers have made a huge jump forward in terms of improving their offensive line. You have to think Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, and Alex Smith are extremely happy this week.
Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers - Drafted by the New England Patriots at 1-27.
It seems like this selection confused people as many thought the more pressing defensive need was pass rush and either a defensive lineman or a linebacker. But the secondary is a problem as well and with teams like the Vikings and Packers coming to town this year and the Colts always a threat in the playoffs, the Patriots know they need to secure the secondary.
McCourty was a pretty good corner at Rutgers although he did allow a lot of passes. A tough, versatile player with return skills, McCourty fits the Belichick mold of solid, muti-functional athletes who can fill several roles.
It looks as though he will start out as a nickel back and more than likely get some special teams work, probably on coverage as well as returning kicks. But don't be surprised if in a few years he's moved to corner, where his press skills will come to fruition. You could see him a lot this year, in fact, as the Pats play nickel defense nearly half the time.
At 5'10", 193lbs, McCourty isn't the prototypical sized defensive back, but he's incredibly tough and competitive and that may make up for some size issues. The physical nature of his game will also secure him a frequent spot on coverage units and you have to know Coach Belichick will try to recreate some of the seven blocked kicks McCourty produced for the Scarlet Knights.
The Patriots not only struggled against the likes of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning but were torched by Chad Henne (335 yards, 2 TDs), Kyle Orton (330 yards, 2 TDs), and Matt Schaub (303 yards, 2 TDs).
McCourty should be able to step in and help reverse course for New England, and very quickly at that.
Jason Pierre-Paul, De, South Florida - Drafted by the New York Giants at 1-15
Pierre-Paul is the highest drafted player in the University of Southern Florida's history and according to Brian Bennett's ESPN Big East Blog, when he was selected he gave the Big East more first round picks in this draft than the Pac-10, the same number as the Big Ten and only one less than the ACC. And the Big East did this, Bennett points out, with fewer teams than any of those leagues.
Pierre-Paul may be a bit of a big boom-bust risk but Giants just might be a team which is a perfect for him. As New York loves to rotate defensive linemen in and out, they'll be able to give Pierre-Paul the time he needs in order to sand off the rough edges of his game while still taking advantage of his explosive pass-rushing skills.
His speed and quickness make up for a lack of instinct as Pierre-Paul will sometimes read a play completely wrong and on occasion gets too focused on pursuing the quarterback, abandoning his positional responsibilities at times.
His athletic ability will allowed him to make up for it at times in college, but that won't fly in the pros and he's going to need to reign it in. Remember also, he lacks a lot of experience, having transferred from College of the Canyons (a JUCO) to USF, where he only played for a year.
That lack of experience coupled with his instinct issues makes him a risk. Again, the Giants need not rely on him completely to be effective and hope by sharing time, he will be allowed to improve without the pressure of having the defense sit on his shoulders.
The cost will still be high if he busts, but if he hits, Pierre-Paul could be a dominant pass-rushing force to be reckoned with in the NFC North.