By Paul Dottino
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Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross nearly could not contain his enthusiasm as he described two of his team’s first three draft picks as Top 15 talents.
“We had those two guys very high up on your board and we are happy we got them,” he said.
That’s a pretty amazing feat, considering the Giants owned picks 19, 52 and 83. Actually, they were very surprised when Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara dropped to them in the first round. Second-round pick Marvin Austin, a defensive tackle from North Carolina, also was a little bit of a surprise to slip. Ross said third-round pick wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan of Troy graded to where he landed.
Austin did not play last season as he was one of the Tar Heels who were suspended for having improper contact with an agent. He also admitted to having been benched for showing up late to class in 2008.
Why Austin was a good pick: Ross and coach Tom Coughlin said the Giants did plenty of homework on him and are satisfied that Austin is remorseful for making some bad decisions and explained they believe Austin’s mistakes have motivated him to become a very good pro. Austin’s been a dominant player on the field, often playing with a nasty streak to go along with amazing quickness for his position. Austin plays the game with passion and it shows. Along with second-year pro Linval Joseph, the Giants have made sure they’ve got plenty of youth and athleticism despite the potential exit of Barry Cofield.
Why they should have passed: The Giants have been fortunate in drafting other players with perceived character issues, such as Ahmad Bradshaw and Mario Manningham. The team set parameters when making the pick and both players have been productive. But does this mean they should continue to gamble in this regard, especially in the second round? Only time will tell. Weren’t there any quality offensive linemen available at No. 52? The Giants said the value on the board indicated none held Austin’s value – they hope not to regret it.
Jernigan is a diminutive and versatile player with great speed who’s immediately expected to add punch to the Giants’ kick return game.
Why Jernigan was a good pick: The Giants badly needed help in the return game and they also were hoping to get faster. Jernigan helps in both areas. In addition, you figure the team has to protect itself at receiver after Steve Smith, Dominik Hixon and Ramses Barden were lost to season-ending injuries last year.
Why they should have passed: The Giants haven’t been able to find undersized speed merchants who’ve lived up to their billing since Dave Meggett and Stephen Baker. You don’t have too look back far to remember how former GM Ernie Accorsi traded up to grab Sinorice Moss – and we saw how that turned out.
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