Commentary

Giants fill some needs, finally, on Day 3

Big Blue pick up two linebackers and an offensive lineman among their five selections

Updated: May 1, 2011, 12:32 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants were not able to resist taking two talented defensive players in the first two rounds.

And in the third round, they went for a wide receiver with speed and versatility to help their special teams.

The Giants were ecstatic with their picks on the first two days of the draft, but they still had glaring needs on the offensive line and at linebacker.

[+] EnlargeJames Brewer
AP Photo/Michael ConroyThe Giants hope James Brewer can develop into a useful O-lineman down the road.

So the Giants addressed those areas on the final day of the draft. General manager Jerry Reese took a massive offensive tackle in the fourth round and then used two of his three sixth-round picks on linebackers.

In the fourth round, the Giants drafted 6-foot-6 Indiana offensive tackle James Brewer, a player who will likely need time to develop. The Giants, who did not have a fifth-round pick, then landed an All-America middle linebacker in the sixth round in Michigan State's Greg Jones. They drafted hard-nosed Iowa safety Tyler Sash and athletic South Florida linebacker Jacquian Williams with their two compensatory sixth-round picks.

The Giants completed their draft by taking speedy Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott in the seventh round.

Overall this week, the Giants added two defensive players they feel are top-15 talents, drafted a potentially explosive returner, found two linebackers and a high-effort safety who could make the final roster, and injected more much-needed speed and athleticism on special teams.

"If you just take the first two picks of the draft, we got two guys in the first round," coach Tom Coughlin said.

Coughlin was talking about Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, their first two picks.

The Giants used their third-round pick on Troy's Jerrel Jernigan, a multi-purpose offensive threat who has a chance to become a dynamic return man.

Going back to Day 3, Brewer is a guy the Giants think can play either right and left tackle. A former high school basketball player, Brewer is considered to be a late-bloomer, but he needs to develop strength and technique.

"We think he has tremendous upside," Reese said. "He's a really good athlete. Only had one year of high school football but he's played a lot of football at Indiana. Not as developed as much as you would like for him to be at this point but this guy is already 323 pounds. He ran really fast for a gigantic man."

Brewer played only one full season in five years at Indiana. He missed the 2006 and 2007 seasons with foot injuries and struggled with weight issues before finally missing the final four games of the 2008 season with a severely sprained ankle.

His only full year came in 2009, when he started all 12 games opposite All-America left tackle Rodger Saffold on an offensive line that allowed just 16 sacks. Last year, he started nine games but suffered an ankle injury and missed the final three games.

The Giants can use an extra big body on the offensive line with Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Adam Koets all rebounding from surgeries. The Giants also have a decision to make with Shawn Andrews, who is due a $3.5 million roster bonus 30 days after the league year begins.

Right tackle Kareem McKenzie was healthy all last season, but he is entering the final year of his contract. So Brewer gives the Giants more depth on the line.

Jones was considered to be one of the best linebackers in the country entering his senior year, but saw his production slip from the lofty numbers he posted as a junior. After having 154 tackles and nine sacks to earn Big Ten defensive player of the year honors as a junior, Jones finished his senior year with 106 tackles with one sack and two interceptions. He still led Michigan State to a share of the Big Ten title.

The two-time All-American recorded 106 or more tackles in three straight seasons, and he has decent speed and good instincts despite his size (6-foot).

[+] EnlargeGreg Jones
AP Photo/Al GoldisGreg Jones is a former Big Ten defensive player of the year.

"Incredibly productive over his time at Michigan State," Reese said. "One of the things that the late [Giants director of player personnel] Tom Boisture taught me is when you scout guys, you respect production. This guy has tons of production. Another guy who's going to come in with a chip on his shoulder because I'm pretty sure he feels like he should've been picked a lot higher than where he got picked. He'll come in here with something to prove along with Marvin Austin."

Sash recorded 217 tackles and had 13 interceptions in three years at Iowa. He fills a need at safety since Deon Grant is a free agent, and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likes to play three safeties often. He also figures to play special teams.

"He is not your top-flight athlete but the guy has a feel for the game, instinctive, excellent ball skills," said Marc Ross, the Giants' director of college scouting. "He has that kind of toughness about him."

With their second compensatory pick, the Giants drafted Williams, an outside linebacker who played with Jason Pierre-Paul at South Florida and Fort Scott Community College as well. Like their first-round pick last year, the Giants are enamored with Williams' speed, athleticism and upside.

"Fast, athletic ... the guy will strike you, will give us some more speed on our special teams," Reese said. "A lot of people didn't know him. Came there late to South Florida but just took off. We think he can really give us a boost on special teams with his speed while he's learning how to play up here at this level."

And Reese went for speed in the seventh round, taking Scott, who ran a 4.34 in the 40 at the combine. Scott rushed for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns during his sophomore year at Maryland, but gained a total of 1,133 yards and nine touchdowns over his final two years combined after that.

Still, the Giants did pretty well the last time they took a running back in the seventh round when they found Ahmad Bradshaw out of Marshall. The Giants have to re-sign Bradshaw, so Scott gives the team more depth at running back.

The Giants didn't add a center or a tight end, two other areas where they could used some help. But they did their best to improve team speed, add another contributor or two to the defense and upgrade their special teams.

"We have a lot of needs," Coughlin said. "The overall objective is to be the best football team you can possibly be. You have a pretty good start here, I feel."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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