Giants corner market with LSU's Webster in second

New York believed it was a slam-dunk that Corey Webster would have been taken in the top 10 had he come out after his junior season. On draft day, they were obviously thrilled to see him still on the board at number 43, more than seven hours after the draft began.

"He had an exceptional college career," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We had our eye on (him) for quite some time."

New York acted swiftly and addressed its biggest need position – cornerback – solidifying its defensive backfield by selecting the speedy, sure-handed LSU corner.

Webster played through multiple injuries during his senior campaign, including a sprained knee and resulting "drop foot" that affected his ability to plant. That obviously led to his slipping in this year's draft, even though he only missed one game. "He played hurt all year," Coughlin said.

"You have to like his toughness to play through injuries like that," Giants director of player personnel Jerry Reese added.

Webster put concerns about his injuries to rest after working out for scouts on LSU's campus March 31. But it left the Giants with mixed emotions.

Reese was so impressed by Webster's exceptional workout that he walked off the field thinking the Giants had no chance to land the 6-0, 204-pounder.

"I was sold," Reese said. "The complex where they work out was packed with people and when I left the workout I had my head down, like there was no way this guy was going to be there when we pick. The guy was brilliant at his workout. He walked in and said, ‘Guys, I was hurt all season. I'm 100 percent today and what you see is what you get.' He was spectacular in his workout."

Webster, who was recruited as a receiver and caught seven passes as a freshman, has an innate ability to intercept the ball – something that's been lacking among members of the Giants secondary for years. Webster picked off seven passes in consecutive seasons and finished second in LSU history with 16 career picks.

"He's an outstanding tracker of the ball," Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said.

Coughlin said Webster had "outstanding hands," and that the club had him rated as a first-round talent.

Reese was extremely surprised Webster returned for his final season.

"If he comes out as a junior, he's a top ten pick," Reese said. "It's a slam-dunk. A size/speed corner with seven interceptions that played like he played his junior year, it's shocking that he didn't come out at the time.

"We're very fortunate to get the guy. There is no question in my mind."

A high school quarterback, Webster moved to receiver upon entering college. Then when he was asked to move to the defensive side of the ball, he didn't hesitate.

"I just wanted to be on the field," he said. "We had a lot of good receivers there like Michael Clayton and Josh Reed. I was just looking to help the team out any way I could."

Webster is clearly a quick study, saying it only took him one spring to learn the cornerback position. He admits his time as a receiver is a big part of his success.

"Being a receiver and having good ball skills definitely helped, especially when the ball's in the air," he said. "We were always taught as a receiver to go attack the ball at its highest point. I take that same thing with me playing cornerback. I think the ball's just as much mine as it is for the receiver."

It's that type of attitude that the Giants desperately need in a defensive backfield that's been averaging less than one pick a game for years.

According to Webster, former LSU and current Dolphins coach Nick Saban deserves much of the credit for Webster's ascension on defense.

"I think Coach Saban, who ran a pro style defense, helped me the way he taught me and coached me," Webster stated.

He also said Saban's disciplinarian ways will only help him adjust to Coughlin's style of coaching.

"Yelling is not a problem," Webster said. "Some people take yelling and use it in a negative way. We were always taught to use it in a positive way and just come back and not make that mistake next time. Use it as a positive and keep going forward.

"I think that will give me an edge because I've been under Coach Saban and he's one of those guys, hard-nosed, get-after-you and wants the best out of his players."

Webster was outstanding during his junior year, when he was named All-SEC. He finished with a career high 46 tackles (36 solos) and seven INTs.

Despite the high ratings last spring, Webster opted to stay in school and graduate.

"I didn't think I was ready," Webster said. "I stayed to further my education and got a degree. I stayed for those reasons and also because I liked the team camaraderie. There was no need for me to come out in a rush or anything like that. I stayed in and I think it worked out for the best."

Webster stated emphatically that he had no regrets about his decision, which likely cost him boatloads of money.

"I have no regrets about what happened," he continued. "Whatever happened, happened. I got a degree. Second-round money is not bad. I have no regrets at all. Everything happens for a reason. I'm here now and I'm in a good situation to play with the Giants and help them get better."

The INT-starved Giants are hoping Webster's playmaking ability will be contagious.

"Hopefully we'll be able to turn that around this year," he said. "Start getting some turnovers going our way – getting some fumbles and some interceptions."

In addition to excellent hands, Webster said that preparation is a key to success.

"A lot of interceptions actually happen early in the week," he explained. "You're reading the quarterback and some of the wide receivers' gestures and stuff like that."

While the soft-spoken Webster is not looking to step on any toes, there's no question that the nickel corner job is there for the taking and that Will Allen, a free agent after the season, could very well be elsewhere next season.

"I just want to come in and do my best," said Webster, who selected jersey number 23 since he wore 13 in college.

Off the field, Webster said he's very laid-back and enjoys spending time with his four-month-old son, Corey II.

There's no doubt New York's coach is going to enjoy spending time with his new corner as well.

Said Coughlin: "The fact that he has had really an exceptional collegiate career and that he does have height, speed, size and the ball catching ability, I think makes him very attractive."

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