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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Giants find themselves a Prince

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — General manager Jerry Reese promises each year to take the best player available when the Giants’ first-round selection comes around. He really stuck to that philosophy Thursday night, when the team selected Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara with the 19th selection.

Offensive line was the Giants’ No. 1 priority entering the NFL Draft, but the need gave way to value when Amukamara, who figured to be a top 10 selection, slipped to No. 19.

“”We’re very excited; the defensive coaches are very excited; our whole draft room is excited,”” Reese said after selecting the 6-foot, 206-pound cornerback. “”We were really surprised he was still there. We thought he would be picked a lot higher.””

“”He was clearly the highest-rated player on the board,”” coach Tom Coughlin said.

Amukamara was rated the second cornerback in the draft and not that far behind No. 1 Patrick Peterson, who went to Arizona with the fifth pick. He was a unanimous All-America selection and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

Yet several teams in need of cornerback help, including the Houston Texans, passed on him. That didn’t scare off the Giants. The only hesitance in making the selection was to see what other teams might offer for their choice.

“”But nobody gave us a decent enough offer,”” Reese said.

Reese was asked if he worries about a player dropping that far in a round and wonders if there’s a reason for the fall. “”We go by what we have on him,”” he said. “”We thought he is a terrific player. He has the height, the weight, the speed, the production. He’s a good tackler and a physical player.

“”He’s a quick study and a terrific guy, exactly what you want both on the field and off it.””

While cornerback was not a glaring need, Reese thinks Amukamara will make an instant impact.

“”He’ll be in the mix,”” said Reese, who has Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross returning at the position. “”You can never have enough cornerbacks.””

“”The more you can have the better,”” Coughlin said. “”There’s versatility in the pick because we can utilize him on special teams and in various coverage packages.””Some people have compared Amukamara to the Jets’ Darrelle Revis because of his physical style and his ability to shut down an opposing receiver. Reese was not about to throw his No. 1 pick into the same sentence with the Jets’ All-Pro.

“”He’ll have to prove it,”” he said, “”but we think he has a chance to become a top cornerback.””

The Giants entered the draft eying help on the offensive line. Florida center Mike Pouncey, who figured to be in their thinking, was selected by Miami with the 15th selection. Offensive tackle Nate Solder from Colorado, another player the Giants coveted, went off the board to New England at No. 17.

Running back Mark Ingram of Alabama and tackle Anthony Castonzo still were on the board, but Amukamara’s grade trumped them all, even though his interception total dropped from five in 2010 to zero in 2011.

“”We think the reason was the year before he had the most dominant defensive player in the country, Ndamukong Suh, playing in front of him,”” Reese said.

Amukamara’s family comes from royal bloodlines in Nigeria, hence his first name. His father, Romanus, was chief in the Imo State of Nigeria and a top soccer player. His mother, Christie Nwachukwa Amukamara, was a sprinter on the Nigerian Olympic team in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

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