Sidebar: Giants' 2nd and 3rd rounders

It was all-too apparent last season: After Amani Toomer went down to a knee injury, there was absolutely no one the Giants could turn to for help in the passing game.

Plaxico Burress was given special attention by opposing defenses and so was Jeremy Shockey. Eli Manning looked downfield and no one was able to emerge as a target.

This coming season, the Giants envision Steve Smith filling that role, which is why last night they used their second-round pick in the NFL Draft on the productive receiver from USC.

"If they're going to take away 17 [Burress] and they're going to take away 80 [Shockey] you got to have somebody else,'' general manager Jerry Reese said. "Quarterbacks like these kind of guys.''

In the third round, the Giants took Jay Alford, a defensive tackle from Penn State.

The selection of Smith makes sense on several fronts. Reese admitted if Toomer – who turns 33 in September – were not coming off reconstructive knee surgery, the Giants likely would not have gone for a receiver so early in the draft. Also, last year's second-round pick, Miami receiver Sinorice Moss, proved nothing during an injury-riddled rookie year. Given Toomer's health risk – although he insists he will return to full health – Moss' inexperience and the trading away of disappointing Tim Carter to the Browns, Smith arrives to fill a void.

In time, perhaps Smith takes the place of Toomer, the franchise leader in nearly every receiving category.

"Is he still there?'' Smith wondered last night when asked about Toomer. "I've seen him many times. He's a solid player.''

At USC, Smith was overshadowed by the more-heralded Dwayne Jarrett but he put together some huge efforts for the Trojans, including a three-touchdown performance in the 2004 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma. The one blemish on Smith's resume is a 2005 fight with teammate Dominique Byrd over money owed to Smith, who broke Byrd's jaw.

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