Height: 6-5 Weight: 278
Season: 4th College: South Florida
Strengths: Antrel Rolle has called his teammate “freakish.” That is a good description of Pierre-Paul. He ran a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash after weighing in at 270 pounds at the 2010 Scouting Combine. He also had a 301/2-inch vertical. He is quick, making him one of the premier edge rushers in the NFL. He uses his hands well. Pierre-Paul is disruptive, no question, and he can be a game-changer as he was last year against the Cowboys with an interception of Tony Romo that he returned 28 yards for a touchdown.
Weaknesses: Injuries have slowed JPP. He needed surgery for a herniated disk in his back in June. He then had a stinger in a game Nov. 10. Injuries aren’t always to blame when Pierre-Paul fails to have an impact. There are stretches when he disappears, despite being healthy, such as the final seven games of last season when he had no sacks. Pierre-Paul still is a raw talent. This is only his seventh season of organized football, and he is only 24 years old. Pierre-Paul, who had only 19 reps in the 225-pound bench press at the combine, could stand to get stronger. He will overpursue at times.
Last week: He had a pick-six, going 24 yards with a Scott Tolzien pass to seal the Giants’ 27-13 victory over the Packers. Pierre-Paul, despite wearing a shoulder harness, also contributed three tackles and defensed a pass.
Who has to stop him? Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith quietly has had a solid season. He has allowed only one sack and has been penalized only once for holding. Smith also has two false starts.
Notable: The Giants’ defense has allowed only two touchdowns the past 18 quarters. Pierre-Paul was the 15th overall pick in 2010. JPP’s breakout season came in 2011 when he had 16.5 sacks, including six in the final four games. In seven games against the Cowboys, Pierre-Paul has 23 tackles, five sacks, an interception for a touchdown, a forced fumble and two passes defensed. Because of his injuries, Pierre-Paul has started only six games this season, though he has played in all 10. For the season, Pierre-Paul has 26 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, six quarterback hits and four passes defensed. One of those sacks was against the Cowboys in the season opener when he dropped Romo for 11 yards.