Giants pick CB Prince Amukamara 19th

Updated: April 29, 2011, 7:00 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants GM Jerry Reese vowed he would take the best player available on his board at No. 19.

But Reese and just about everybody else in the Giants war room were stunned as the first round unfolded.

[+] EnlargePrince Amukamara
Eric Francis/Getty ImagesThe Giants were very surprised that Amukamara was still available at No. 19.

With four quarterbacks going in the first 12 picks, a cornerback considered to be a top-10 talent by many dropped all the way into Reese's lap at 19. And the Giants did what they have done in the past -- take talent over need.

Despite needing help on the offensive line and at linebacker, the Giants drafted Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara at No. 19.

The 6-foot Amukamara is considered to be the second-best corner in the draft behind LSU's Patrick Peterson. And he wasn't supposed to fall too far outside the top 10.

Not that the Giants are complaining. They actually got a Prince who comes from a royal bloodline in Nigeria.

"We're really surprised that he was there," said Reese, who drafted defense in the first round for the fourth time in his five drafts as general manager. "There were some concerns about his production on the ball this past season because he had more production on the ball the year before. We think he can still play the ball really well and he's a spectacular, physical player."

"He will be in the mix in our secondary," Reese added. "We thought he was a terrific player and we never dreamed that he would be there [at No. 19]."

Marc Ross, director of college scouting, said it was "truly a shock" that Amukamara was there for the Giants.

Even though the Giants have Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross at cornerback, they went for the best player available on their board, with Alabama running back Mark Ingram and Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo among those available at No. 19.

"There was Prince," head coach Tom Coughlin said of Amukamara's dropping to No. 19. "And he was clearly the highest-rated player on the board."

Amukamara has five career interceptions while at Nebraska, all coming during his junior season. He failed to register a pick last year and Reese said that might have something to do with the departure of teammate Ndamukong Suh, the beast defensive tackle who was drafted in the first round by the Lions last year. Some also said Amukamara's arm length (30.4 inches) might not be as long as some would like.

Amukamara, who ran a 4.43 40 at the combine, said not that many teams threw his way last year, resulting in no interceptions.

He definitely will be motivated after falling much lower than expected.

"I was very surprised that I lasted all the way to 19, just because I thought other teams needed a corner," Amukamara said. "I'm definitely a physical corner that loves to get in on the run and I use my hands a lot with the wide receivers. I really like to get after the ball."

Amukamara said he was surprised that the Giants picked him because he did not work out for them.

Coughlin believes Amukamara, originally recruited to Nebraska as a highly regarded running back, has the talent to get on the field and will be a contributor on special-teams coverage. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likes to use three safeties on the field often and now he has a first-round defensive back at his disposal.

And he has one that is of royalty as well.

"It has royalty to it," Amukamara said when asked about his first name. "My Dad comes from a royal family where his grandfather was a chief of a village in Nigeria and every son is actually a prince and they get the first name Prince."

"[I'm] very proud of my heritage," he added. "My parents are very proud of it too. Right now they are wearing their cultural attire and they love to show it off."

The Giants can't wait to show off their Prince this season.

"You can never have enough cover guys," Coughlin said. "If you watch the way people play today with the addition of the receivers, they go one, two, three, four, until they figure out what you're going to cover some of these third, fourth receivers with. The more cover people you have, the better off you're going to be."

"This young man is physical, he's fast, he has very good size, he's confident, which you have to be as a corner in this league."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.

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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