The Giants could not have left the crowd at Radio City Music Hall more surprised Thursday night when they took Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Despite having two solid cornerbacks in Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas in the starting lineup, and former No 1 pick Aaron Ross in a backup position, the Giants bypassed talent such as offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gabe Carimi, and 2009 Heisman Trophy running back Mark Ingram to take the Huskers' playmaking defensive back.
"(We're) really surprised that he was there when we picked," GM Jerry Reese said. "We thought he'd be picked a lot higher than that. He was too much value."
Amukamara, 6-0, 206, was at one point projected as a top-10 pick because of his physicality and his ability to play on an island But he slipped down to the Giants, who certainly had more pressing needs than a cornerback. However, Reese said last week that he would go with the best player available at 19, and that was apparently Amukamara. Reese wouldn't let on how big the gap was between Amukamara and the next grouping, but coach Tom Coughlin indicated it was significant.
He broke up 13 passes last year but didn't have an interception. A major part of that was because quarterbacks didn't throw at him Amukamara estimated at the NFL Scouting Combine that he had only 18 passes completed on him in 14 games.
The Giants were said to be highly interested in Florida G/C Mike Pouncey to get Shaun O'Hara's ultimate successor, but he went to the Dolphins at No 15. And another player of interest, Colorado tackle Nate Solder, went two picks before them to New England at No 17.
In Amukamara, however, the Giants got a cornerback who can possibly step right into a starting role if either Webster or Thomas get hurt, a likely possibility considering the number of injuries to the secondary over the last couple of seasons.
And, if nothing else, he'll certainly be of help in a secondary full of lofty picks (Aaron Ross, Webster, and Thomas, not to mention safeties Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant) when they face Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson and Dallas' Dez Bryant twice a year.
"You always need corners, you always need pass rushers," Reese said. "Those two positions are always a need pick. So we're excited about Prince. We're really excited about Prince. Again, we never thought he'd be there."