Moreover, Diehl, who owned a 3.8 grade-point average, is already extremely familiar with McNally's teachings. Harry Hiestand, Illinois' offensive line coach, has attended McNally's nationally acclaimed clinics since the latter was with Cincinnati, where he coached from 1980-94.
"(Hiestand) was really excited (when the Giants drafted me)," the 6-5, 310-pound Diehl said. "Really, it's a perfect fit here because the same blocking techniques and the other things (McNally's) doing are the same types of things we tried to use at Illinois. (Hiestand) knows Coach McNally really well and he knows Coach McNally's going to get after me. He seems like he's going to get the most out of you as a football player and make you the best you can be."
McNally made similar magic for the cap-strapped Giants with previously underdeveloped eventual starters like left guard Rich Seubert, center/tackle Chris Bober and Whittle in recent years. Like Bober and Whittle, Diehl can play multiple positions. He started his entire senior season at left guard for the Illini, but was Illinois' left tackle his whole junior season.
"He has the potential to come in here and start," Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi said. "He can play tackle, but versatility is a bonus because we already have two or three people McNally feels comfortable with. But guard was the position that we were most concerned about. We were almost awarding (right guard) to (Tam) Hopkins, and now he has competition."
Diehl will need to work more on his run blocking than his pass blocking, according to scouting reports. But Diehl doesn't think he lacks the aggressiveness or nastiness, both of which were questioned by several scouting services, to survive those fierce fights at NFL lines of scrimmage. After all, Diehl noted, he was raised on the South Side of Chicago, one of America's most notorious neighborhoods, for the first 16 years of his life.
"For them to judge my mean streak," Diehl said, "I'd ask them to put on a helmet and come against me."
Where he fits in
If you listen closely to the Giants you'll realize that David Diehl can fit in anywhere David Diehl feels like. He's going to be given a golden opportunity to take over the starting right guard job. He's currently behind both Tam Hopkins and Jeff Hatch on the depth chart, but most of the team's brass is confident Diehl will blow by both of them.
"David Diehl is a big, strong guy who can play guard or tackle. He can give us some versatility on the line. We really like him. He's big, he's strong and he's smart. You just look at him; he's surprised a lot of people just by how big he is. We're looking forward to him competing for a starting job." – Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese