Giants Hope Talented TXCorner is no Bum Steer

A little adversity sure wasn't going to slow Aaron Ross down. So what if he had to miss two years of college ball before returning to Texas to star at cornerback? So what if he was 24 years old when he was drafted, unlike most players who are usually no older than 21 or 22?

For Ross, he couldn't care less. And GM Jerry Reese, who was thrilled that Ross was there with the 20th pick, also stated that Ross' age was a non-factor.

A miscalculation on Ross' transcript basically sent him back to high school after he had already begun practicing with the Longhorns. But Ross didn't utter even the tiniest complaint. In fact, he said that helped make him who he is.

"It has made me mature a lot faster," the Tyler, Texas native said. "I had to sit out for two years. Those two years were really good for me. I had a chance to be with my mom, to be with my pastor, and everyone. It kept my mind right.

"I feel like The Lord puts me in situations that get you prepared for the next level and it was something that I needed to go through. I feel like that was just a learning experience. I probably wouldn't have been the Thorpe winner if I didn't sit out those two years and I probably wouldn't be in this situation. I have no regrets."

Nor does Reese, who somewhat surprisingly admitted trying to trade up for Darrelle Revis, whom the Jets moved up to get at number 14, and Leon Hall, who went to Cincinnati at number 18. Reese was totally content with Ross, the man that captured the prestigious Thorpe Award, which recognizes the nation's most outstanding defensive back.

"They were not on the board so he was a value pick and a need pick for us," Reese said.

According to Reese, Ross' entire package was appealing.

"His whole body of work; what he did in the combine, what he did during the season and over his career," the GM said. "He played at a high level on some championship football teams. So his whole body of work intrigued us."

While many had the Giants pegged to draft a linebacker in the first round, CB was a huge need as well.

"He fits our scheme," Reese said. "He can play that press coverage we're going to play more of this year. This is a need and a value pick. We did not reach for this guy."

"In Aaron Ross we found a guy that's an outstanding physical corner," coach Tom Coughlin added. "He likes to press. He is physical with his hands."

Reese noted that Ross, 6-0, 193, would likely fare well against the league's larger receivers.

"Will he cover Terrell Owens better than he will cover Santana Moss?" Reese asked. "Absolutely he will because he is a big guy, he is long-armed. Is he going to get some balls caught on him from little guys in front of him? He probably will, but he is going to battle those big guys that we play with in the National Football League, which is a big-receiver league. So we felt good about him in that aspect."

Ross recorded 205 tackles and 10 interceptions during his Longhorns career. Ourlads Scouting Services stated that Ross is an "instinctive cover corner" and is "physical on run support."

Second-round pick Steve Smith was impressed with Ross not only when the two faced off in the 2005 National Championship Game, but during the recent rookie minicamp.

"Aaron Ross is a great corner, very athletic," Smith stated. "He's really smart and a physical guy."

Giants Secondary/CBs coach Peter Giunta said the different rules on the pro level are going to be the biggest adjustment for Ross.

"He'll have to learn our system," Giunta said. "The biggest thing is to learn the terminology right away. Then when he gets here he's learned the rules – he keeps his hands off after five yards and makes contact within that five-yard area."

Giunta said he'd be disappointed if Ross didn't arrive planning to be a starting corner.

"That's the way it should be," Giunta said. "Everybody that comes on the field should be, ‘Hey I'm competing to be the starting corner. I'm competing to be a starter.'"

While an admitted "competitor that's not here to sit on the bench," Ross isn't looking to jump the gun right away, only to learn the playbook and get to know the defensive scheme and his new teammates.

"My mind is really not on starting right now," he said.

In addition to his defensive prowess the Giants liked Ross because of his proficiency returning punts. He returned three punts for touchdowns while at Texas.

"I expect him to challenge to be back there," Reese said.

Coughlin added that Ross' punt return ability was important.

"That is a big plus for us right now," he said. "Here is a guy that has done this. He has three touchdowns in his career on punt returns. He has a nice punt return average for his career. He gives you that added ability there. He has a good first step. He is a guy that has the ability to split it and go for it."

Ross said he'd welcome the job.

"I love returning punts, I love doing that," he said. "Especially since I have an offensive mind, that is my way to play a little bit of offense."

Ross admitted that he was surprised to hear from the Giants since they never even had him for a workout.

"Honestly they did not show me any interest," said Ross, who didn't expect to be chosen until 26th or 27th in the opening round. "I did not go in to visit with the Giants and they did not call me like other teams. So if it was a poker game, they won."

With Revis toiling for the rival Jets, the Giants sure hope so.

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