Growing up Fast

To say that the New York Giants had a superlative draft last spring might be to belabor the obvious. With the exception of the NFL's first overall selection, QB Eli Manning, who hasn't played any significant minutes, almost everyone else drafted not only made the team but two have earned starting status.

They are second-round pick Chris Snee, who has started at right guard since the season opened, and fifth-round pick Gibril Wilson, who stepped in at strong safety when veteran Shaun Williams was injured in the second game. Wilson has started ever since and leads the team with three interceptions and 39 tackles. He also has recorded and two sacks and five passes defensed.

There was no third-round pick (it went to San Diego as part of the Manning trade) but DE/SLB Reggie Torbor, the fourth choice, has played sparingly but well. He has four special teams tackles and a partially blocked punt.

WR Jamaar Taylor, the sixth-round selection, recently was promoted to third wideout with the loss (for the season) of Tim Carter, who suffered a fractured hip socket in the Dallas game Oct. 10.

There were two seventh-round picks, OT Drew Strojny and DE Isaac Hilton, who did not survive the final cutdown date (nor has either been picked up anywhere else).

Snee, according to his father-in-law (head coach Tom Coughlin) was the third ranked offensive lineman in the draft -- but the first ranked guard. An All-Big East selection at Boston College, the 6-3, 315-pounder pushed last year's starter at RG, David Diehl, to RT and hasn't missed a play since the opening game.

"Does my father-in-law get on me? Oh, yeah," smiles Snee. "But it's only during the games. When I mess up, like when I had three false starts in one game, he ripped me on the sideline. But when we're in a family situation, he's just great."

A Jekyll and Hyde? "I don't know, which one was the good one?" Snee joked. "I don't know if there's much of that one."

Adding to this year's draft are a handful of picks from 2003 who have started to show signs of vindicating their high selection, including DT William Joseph (1), DE Osi Umenyiora (2), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (3), Diehl (5), WR Willie Ponder (6a), CB Frank Walker (6b), WR-ST David Tyree (6c) and G-C Wayne Lucier (7b).

Vindication is heady stuff for these down-trodden Giants draft experts, and if Eli Manning proves to be the superstar he is billed as, the last two years will be remembered as a mini-golden age of player evaluation.

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