Nicks, Quinn Taken On Draft's 1st Day

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – In the ever-changing landscape that is the NFL Draft, one projection that actually held true was the New York Giants' selection of UNC wide receiver Hakeem Nicks with the 29th overall pick (first round). Nearly three hours later, tight end Richard Quinn closed the second round (No. 64) in heading to Denver.

"I'm excited about the opportunity that is ahead of me in New York," Nicks said in a released statement on Saturday. "I was just waiting around today to hear my name called and was relieved when it happened. I got a call from Coach (Tom) Coughlin right before they made the pick. It's something I've prepared my whole life for and I look forward to the challenge.", ESPN and the New York Daily News had all forecasted Nicks to the Giants earlier in the week, assuming that Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin would all be off the board in the latter stages of the draft's opening day.

The move made sense, as the Giants needed a sure-handed receiver that could adjust and catch the occasional off-target Eli Manning throw after cutting wide receiver standout Plaxico Buress. Nicks' ability to pluck balls out of seemingly impossible positions stood out to New York, which plays in the notoriously windy Giants Stadium.

"He has big hands -- he can catch the ball with one hand or both hands -- and he's hard to bring down when he's running with the ball in his hands," UNC wide receivers coach Charlie Williams said.

His raw combination of size, speed and determination create a potent offensive weapon that Manning should be able to lean on in tough situations.

"i think what he brings to the table is his physical toughness," Williams said. "He can block in the run game. On third down, when you need a first down, he's going to find a way to get it. And if he gets anywhere remotely close to the end zone, he's going to get the ball in there because he's so strong."

Nicks is the 30th first-round pick coached by Butch Davis and the 18th first-round draft pick in UNC history, as well as the second in as many years. Last season, defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer was also taken with the 29th overall by the San Francisco 49ers.

Nicks posted 68 receptions, 1222 yards and 12 touchdown in 2009, highlighted by a strong performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte when he caught eight passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. The Charlotte, N.C. native set 14 school records, including career marks in receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns.

Quinn may have only caught eight balls for less than 100 yards in 2009, but an improved 40-yard dash time (4.75) and his strong blocking ability boosted his status into the first day of draft selections. The Maple Heights, Ohio, native started 12 games last season and had a 32-yard scoring reception in the win at Duke.

The last time North Carolina delivered two first-day draft picks occurred in 2002, with Julius Peppers (No.2 overall) and Ryan Sims (No. 6 overall). Coincidentally, Nicks and Quinn both entered the NFL Draft with one year of eligibility remaining at UNC.

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