Need for speed led Gibril to Giants

Gibril Wilson hit hard and wrapped well in his two seasons as a tackling machine for the University of Tennessee. It was Wilson's speed, however, that inspired Ernie Accorsi and Co. to make him their choice in the fifth round of the NFL Draft to address their depth problem at the safety spots. <BR><BR>

"There were other safeties up there, but he was the fastest," Accorsi said. "We can see him as a free or strong safety. We were not looking for an ‘in-the-box, play close to the line of scrimmage, run-defend only' safety. We were looking for someone that can do that, but who also had the ability to play free safety and play centerfield. And because of his speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash), we picked him."

A two-year starter at strong safety after transferring from the City College of San Francisco, Wilson was also able to cover receivers out of the slot for the Volunteers. He helped neutralize acclaimed Miami tight end Kellen Winslow and recorded a late interception that sealed Tennessee's late-season upset of the Hurricanes. His hands are suspect, though, and he defended many more passes (17) in two Division I-A seasons than he intercepted (three).

He'll have to improve in that area if he is to help the Giants rectify their turnover troubles on defense. Starting safeties Omar Stoutmire and Shaun Williams were credited with just two interceptions combined in 2003. The Giants defense picked off only 10 opponents' passes all last season.

First and foremost, the 6-0, 197-pound Wilson will need to contribute on special teams, a constant cause for concern later in Jim Fassel's seven-year run. Giants coach Tom Coughlin envisions him being a gunner on coverage teams because of his speed.

"He has excellent special teams ability," Coughlin said. "I think that was a big factor (in his selection)."


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