EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — For a running back, David Wilson of Virginia Tech had all the things the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants wanted.
Speed, balance, production, a love for the game, a good attitude and one other that made them all smile — backflips.
The Giants put an end to a lightning quick first round of the NFL Draft by taking Wilson with the 32nd pick overall, filling a need that opened when the team released backup Brandon Jacobs after the season.
“He can do anything you want him to do, catch the ball, return kicks, ACC overall player of the year., ACC offensive player of the year,” general manager Jerry Reese said after making the pick shortly after 11 p.m.. “He is a terrific football player. He should fit into our running back stable with the other backs we have, and we are happy to have a player of his caliber.”
The Giants won the Super Bowl despite finishing last in the league in rushing, and Wilson has the potential to help out, coming off a season where he rushed for a school-record 1,719 yards, averaging 5.89 a carry.
Wilson, who is 5-foot-9 and 206 pounds, is somewhat of a character. One of the things that made the Giants laugh was a videotape in which he pulled off 20 straight backflips.
The last Giants draft pick to catch the team’s attention doing backflips was defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. They took him with their first pick in 2010, and all he did in his second season was earn All Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
Wilson even called out Pierre-Paul — who posted 14 consecutive backflips back then — two days ago when he posted the videotape.
Wilson is the first running back the Giants have taken in the first round since 2000, when they took Ron Dayne of Wisconsin, who turned out to be a bust.
Running back was one of the Giants’ biggest needs with starter Ahmad Bradshaw bothered by foot problems in the recent seasons, and Jacobs now a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
The only other tested veteran running back on the team is D.J. Ware and he has been the third option for the last few seasons.
Wilson, who was at home in Danville, Va., when the Giants called, believes he can step in and help out.
“My whole career, I have been in a two-back system,” Wilson said, noting he played with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans at Virginia Tech. “…I am a good team player. In this league, one running back can’t do it all. I look forward to working with those guys and making the Giants closer to the top of the league (in rushing).”
The Giants had choices with the 32nd pick, when offensive linemen Cordy Glenn of Georgia and Jonathan Martin of Stanford were still available, along with Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
“There were still several players on the board that we liked. But David was rated the highest player,” Reese said. “It was a little bit of a best value, plus he was the highest player there at the time. And he filled a need as well.
“You like to get a combination of both things.”
Marc Ross, the director of college scouting for the Giants, said Wilson was one of the few players that the almost everyone felt was a good football player.
“There are only a handful of those guys in the draft every year,” Ross said. “And in our meeting, he was one of those players where everybody read the report and came away saying `This guy was a good football player.”‘
Coach Tom Coughlin said Wilson needs to improve his pass protection and needs to protect the ball better. He fumbled seven times last season, losing four. Coughlin said most of the fumbles could be blamed on trying for the extra yard.
“He is the kind of a guy we felt could add very much to our present situation in terms of the big-play potential,” Coughlin said. “He is one of those guys who has the speed and maneuverability to make the big play, and that’s what was very important to us at this time.”
Wilson met with the Giants at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, but he had very little contact with the team until they called him Thursday night.
“It was the best call,” Wilson said, “in a long time.”
The Giants still have needs to address — offensive line, linebacker and wide receiver — over the next two days.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)