By Paul Dottino
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Sometimes NFL executives actually tell the truth when you ask them about their draft plans – such was the case with Giants general manager Jerry Reese, who insisted he would take the best available player at No. 19, regardless of position. And that’s exactly what he did, selecting Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Amukamara easily was the highest remaining player on the Giants’ draft board, somewhere just outside the Top 10 – which is why they didn’t include him in their “cluster” of potential picks. He simply wasn’t expected to be available and their eyes started to light up once he slipped into the mid-teens.
In fact, running back Mark Ingram had the best grade of those left in the Giants’ first-round cluster and they would have been more than satisfied to take him. You could argue the Giants had more of an immediate need at running back, given the free agent status of Ahmad Bradshaw (given the pending CBA), than at corner.
So, the Giants were on the clock and Reese needed only a few minutes before taking Amukamara, having quickly dismissed a trade offer that would have dropped them into the early second round.
Why Amukamara was a good pick: He’s a physical cover corner with low-4.4 speed who enjoys playing press coverage and can be a gunner on special teams. He’s expected to immediately compete for playing time, beginning with the sub packages. Every team needs at least three, preferably four and – if you are really, really lucky – five capable corners on its roster. It would appear Amukamara will be given a chance to compete with Aaron Ross as the third corner.
In addition, the Giants still don’t know if they’ll be able to retain veteran free agent Deon Grant, who was the key to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s “Gidorah – the three-headed safety” package. The Giants may have to tinker with that scheme and Amukamara somehow may figure into that equation. He also is regarded as a level-headed player who had no red flags in his background check.
Why they should have passed: You easily could argue that the Giants had bigger needs, although they already knew they would not get an impact linebacker at No. 19. But they could have selected Ingram or perhaps tackles James Carpenter or Gabe Carimi to enhance their banged up offensive line, and the team also had its eyes on wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin.
Who they might be looking at in the remaining rounds: OLB Bruce Carter (North Carolina), as expected, dropped out of the first round because he’s coming off a torn ACL. Sources say the Giants are not likely to take a chance on him because he reportedly may not be ready for training camp – if and when there is one. However, he fits the team’s biggest need. OLB Dontay Moch (Nevada), who played DE in college and is better suited for a 3-4 scheme, but owns explosive pass-rushing skills. … Been asked about OLB Akeem Ayers (UCLA), but don’t see the consistent quickness/aggression/power game that the Giants are seeking. Is he worth a gamble? … DT Jurrell Casey (Southern Cal), an intense, physical, athletic big man … C/G Stefan Wisniewski (Penn State), a heady player whose uncle, Steve, was an eight-time Pro Bowl pick with the Raiders; and G/C Rodney Hudson (Florida State), a four-year starter who has got a great motor. … TE Luke Stocker (Tennessee) , a steady all-around talent and good in-line blocker. … WR Terrence Toliver (LSU), a big target who was an underachiever with inconsistent hands and WR Austin Pettis (Boise State), who’s tall with good hands but a bit slow. … RB DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), an experienced and versatile back with quickness and terrific hands.
Draft schedule: The second round (seven minutes between picks) and third rounds (five minutes) begin Friday, starting at 6 p.m. Rounds four through seven (five minutes) begin Saturday at noon.
Here are the Giants’ remaining picks: Second round, 20, 52nd (approx. 7:25 p.m. Friday); Third round, 19, 83rd; Fourth round, 20, 117th; Fifth round, None (19, 150th traded to Vikings in Rosefels/Reynaud deal last year); Sixth round includes two compensatory picks, 20, 185st and 33, 198th and 37, 202nd; Seventh round, 19, 221st.
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