Prospect Profile: DE Jason Pierre-Paul

Between now and the start of the 2010 draft on April 22, we'll be profiling some of the prospects who have or figure to draw the interest of the Dolphins. We continue the series with a look at South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

Jason Pierre-Paul's freakish athletic ability is right there on YouTube for all to see.

The clip is from the week of the International Bowl and it involves a back-flip challenge between Pierre-Paul and his University of South Florida teammate Kion Wilson.

After determining who would go first with a game of rock-paper-scissors, Pierre-Paul proceeds to perform 13 back flips. At 6-6 and 260 pounds.

Wilson, a linebacker who is considered a solid NFL prospect, could only do six before he failed to land the seventh.

At the scouting combine, Pierre-Paul informed reporters that his personal best was 23 back flips. Again, at 6-6, 260 pounds.

Now, back flips aren't going to help Pierre-Paul get to the quarterback in the NFL, but his athletic ability is why he's being considered a potential top 15 picks in the draft despite having played only one season at USF.

Pierre-Paul is the kind of athlete the Oakland Raiders love, so don't be overly shocked if they pick him eighth overall. It's also been suggested he could be a possibility at No. 12, with the idea that the Dolphins would turn him into a 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker.

And, make no mistake, it's because of his pass-rushing potential that Pierre-Paul will be drafted early.

"I'm going to get to the quarterback no matter what," Pierre-Paul said at the combine. "I'm going to get there."

Pierre-Paul showed his pass-rushing prowess in the junior college ranks in 2007 and 2008, racking up 14 sacks at the College of the Canyons before collecting 10.5 at Fort Scott C.C. as a sophomore.

Last season at USF, Pierre-Paul finished with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss in 13 games, seven of which he started.

Because of his modest production, it was a surprise to some that Pierre-Paul decided to skip his senior season.

"At first I didn't know what to do because everything happened so fast, so I asked (former USF coach Jim Leavitt) what to do and they said it would be selfish of them to say I should stay," Pierre-Paul explained. "So I prayed about it and thought real hard about it and went back to Coach Leavitt and we decided to send in the petition to the NFL and when it came back it had a first- and second-round grade on it, so Coach Leavitt said, 'I told you that if it was a first- or second-round grade, you have to come out. So I wound up coming out because I had a great year at South Florida and my family wound up having financial problems."

To give you an idea of Pierre-Paul's ability, after his stint in junior college, he was recruited by the three major Florida programs — Florida, Florida State and Miami.

He ended up at USF because the Bulls stuck with him from the time he came out of Deerfield Beach High School.

Pierre-Paul missed the start of fall camp at USF as he finished his JUCO academic work, and his coming-out party came in a game against Florida State when he had three tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and two quarterback hurries.

Pierre-Paul played defensive end in South Florida's 4-3 defense, but isn't fazed by the thought of switching to outside linebacker in a 3-4.

"A couple of teams have asked me about being a 3-4 outside linebacker and I don't feel like that would be hard for me to adjust to," he said. "I feel I can be a stand-up end or a linebacker, because I'm still going to rush the passer the same way. I haven't done any work in a 3-4, but I think I could adjust to it real quick."

One thing about Pierre-Paul, he's not lacking for confidence.

When asked whether he agrees with the perception that he's a raw talent, he replied: "I'm just God-gifted, I have a talent. Even when I played basketball, no one ever taught me the game, I just played it. And with football, I just converted basketball to football and just played."

When it comes to the NFL, Pierre-Paul has some lofty goals.

"I watch football, I see all these great D-ends on TV," he said. "But I want to be greater. My first year in the NFL I want to break records. That's my goal. To break records."

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