EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - In the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, general manager Jerry Reese insisted repeatedly that value would determine the New York Giants’ draft choice.
So, while they needed help on the offensive line, at linebacker and the receiver positions, the Giants didn’t hesitate to take Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara with the 19th pick overall when the Big 12 defensive player of the year was still available Thursday night.
“You always needs corners. You always need pass rushers,” Reese said. “Those two positions you always need on the defense.”
The Giants, who missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record, are deep at cornerback. Starters Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas are returning along with Aaron Ross, the first round pick in 2007 who has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons.
Reese and coach Tom Coughlin both said that Amukamara was the highest rated player on their board when they picked. But the Giants braintrust still discussed the choice.
“Nothing is ever a slam dunk,” Reese said. “We always talk it out. Why was he still up there? What were the grades on him? Everybody made a comment.”
The team even waited a few minutes to see if anyone was willing to make a trade offer, but no one tempted them to pass on Amukamara, who Reese described as a quality individual on and off the field.
“I was very surprised I lasted all the way to 19, just because I thought other teams who had earlier picks needed a corner,” said Amukamara, who said the Giants did not work him out or invite him for a visit prior to the draft.
Amukamara had five interceptions as a junior, but none last season. The lack of production can be attributed to the fact that many teams did not challenge the 6-foot senior who some experts compare to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis because of his ability to shut down the opposition’s top receiver.
Reese was careful not to make that comparison.
“He’ll have to prove that,” Reese said. “He has some qualities like that, but he’ll have to prove that. Darrelle Revis has done it. He has not played a snap yet, but we think he has a good skill set and he’s in the rotation right away.”
Reese said it was hard to compare Amukamara to anyone else.
“He is going to be a terrific corner,” Reese said. “He just needs to find his own identity.”
Amukamara described himself as a physical defender who also likes to play the run.
“I use my hands a lot with the wide receivers,” he said. “And I really like to get after the ball.”
One of criticisms of Amukamara coming into the draft were that his arms were too short. Reese downplayed it, saying that at 6-feet, the length of his arms were not an issue.
Amukamara played on special teams at Nebraska and can expect to do that with the Giants.
He was given his first name because his dad’s grandfather was part of a royal family in Nigeria.
With center Shaun O’Hara, guard Rich Seubert and backup center Adam Koets coming off surgeries, the Giants will probably look to address the offensive line later in the draft. They also will have to draft a receiver with Steve Smith also coming off surgery.
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