EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Free agency cost the New York Giants a Super Bowl hero in wide receiver Mario Manningham.
But general manager Jerry Reese replaced him quickly … with a wideout who got lost in the NFL Draft.
Meet Rueben Randle of LSU.
The Giants found a seemingly NFL-ready receiver Friday night when they grabbed Randle with the final pick of the second round. New York later added safety Jayron Hosley in the third round, a player who failed his drug test at the NFL Combine.
Randle had been touted as a potential first-round pick coming into the draft, and he was one of 26 players who came to Radio City Music Hall to hear his name called. When it happened roughly after 9 p.m., he was the only player from the 26 not picked yet.
Marc Ross, New York’s director or college scouting, said the champions had Randle rated as a first-round choice and they even discussed him before taking Virginia Tech running back David Wilson, Hosley’s teammate, with the 32nd pick overall.
“I think with receivers, it gets overblown with 40 times and speed and this and that. You need guys that are NFL-ready. What I mean by that is this guy is strong, he can catch the ball, he’s a good route runner, he is position savvy and he knows how to get open,” Ross said. “To me, those are the successful receivers in the NFL. I think the guys we have now — Hakeem (Nicks) and Victor (Cruz) — if you put them at the combine, you won’t notice them. But if you put them on the football field, they just take their game to another level. And this is how Rueben is in our eyes.”
Randle needs to be ready.
“This kid runs the full-route tree,” Reese said. “He looks like a big, pro, wide receiver out there. I think he will be a quick fit for the offense. He is big. He can post guys up and he has very good hands.”
Manningham, whose clutch sideline catch ignited a game-winning, fourth-quarterback touchdown drive against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent after last season.
“I think it leaves a little chip to the shoulder, not much,” Randle said. “I was going to come in and work no matter what the situation, but I think I have a lot of prove now. I did drop so far and that’s what I am willing to do.”
Randle had 53 catches this past season for 917 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 17.3 a reception, but struggled against national champion Alabama, gaining 32 yards on five catches. Ross downplayed Randle’s games against Alabama and his numbers this season, noting that LSU quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson had trouble getting the ball to him.
“The way LSU plays, they run the ball, they play defense and those two quarterbacks, to be quite honest, are not very good,” Ross said. “So he didn’t get a lot of chances. When the ball came to him, he was productive, but he just didn’t get a ton of chances to win games, to catch. But when they went his way, he made plays.”
The choice of Hosley in the third round was interesting because of his problems with substance issue.
Coach Tom Coughlin described Hosley as a competitive, feisty, physical player who many times has been matched against an opponent’s top receiver. He said the team was aware of his drug issue and has spoken to him about it.
“We believe we can work with him and he’s willing to overcome any issues that he has,” Coughlin said.
Hosley had 59 tackles and three interceptions this past season, a campaign in which he was bothered by a hamstring injury and concussion issues. The 5-foot-10, 178-pounder also ranked 11th nationally, averaging 12.67 yards on punt returns.
Hosley had nine of his12 career interceptions in 2010, and Coughlin said opponents did not test him much this past season. Reese said the 20-year-old Hosley reminded him of Adam “Pacman” Jones.
“He is not a big man, but he has athletic arrogance,” Reese said. “He plays like a big guy.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)