Smallish Babers ready to make Giant leap

"I felt we really needed a corner that can compete for the third corner job," Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi said of the team's fourth-round pick (123rd overall). "We're not giving him the job, but the only thing that kept Babers from being a higher pick was his height."

Rod Babers will wear No. 31 for the Giants, but the similarities seemingly end there between him and Jason Sehorn.

Sehorn is a safety-sized cornerback who made many memorable interceptions during his often-controversial, injury-riddled final seven seasons with the team. Babers was measured at 5-8 at the NFL Scouting Combine three months ago, six inches shorter than Sehorn, was often overshadowed by higher-profile Texas teammates, and although he started his final 38 games as a collegian, the Houston native recorded only five interceptions for the Longhorns. But the durable Babers is an athletically superior speedster who atones for his height with excellent leaping ability, which is why he is considered a realistic replacement for the released Sehorn this season at nickel back, despite that he has yet to play a down of professional football.

"I felt we really needed a corner that can compete for the third corner job," Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi said of the team's fourth-round pick (123rd overall). "We're not giving him the job, but the only thing that kept Babers from being a higher pick was his height."

Babers was listed at 5-11 before his senior season. He even thought he was closer to 5-9, but following the combine measurement still believed he would be chosen higher than the fourth round. He joked about "shrinking" since the Cotton Bowl and re-growing his Afro to increase his height, but he is serious about playing immediately. The Giants drafted cornerback Frank Walker out of Tuskegee in the sixth round, too, but Babers' primary competition for the nickel assignment figures to come from veterans Ralph Brown and Kato Serwanga.

"I definitely think I'm ready to step in and help this team, and contribute in any way I can," Babers said, "whether it be at nickel back, on special teams or trying to play for a starting spot. The best thing we can do is create competition between everybody to try and make everybody better."

Babers obviously owns a corner's confidence, but he also has an ally who will be able to give him an informed idea of how to deal with playing in the league's biggest media market. Ex-Texas quarterback Chris Simms, Tampa Bay's third-round draft choice last month, is Babers' best friend. They were roommates in Austin, and Babers resided in Phil Simms' North Jersey home for more than a month while preparing for the combine earlier this year.

"He's got a great family," Babers said. "His dad is a great guy and he's a legend around these parts. So anytime you get to hang around a guy like that, it's a good thing."

Where he fits in
Babers is going to have as good a shot as anyone to be either New York's nickel or dime back. Sure Ralph Brown, Kato Serwanga and Ray Green all have more experience, but the Giants view Babers as NFL-ready and believe that by the time he's finished with his first professional training camp he'll be ready for game action on Sundays.

Reese's Read
"Babers is a little big man. He's short, but he's not small. He weighs close to 200 pounds. He has long arms for a short guy. He can jump. He has a 37-inch vertical jump. We like him to be able to compete for the nickel and dime spots." – Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese


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