Reese, Coughlin: Dillard Can Start

As the third and final day of the 2010 NFL Draft wound down, both Giants GM Jerry Reese and Coach Tom Coughlin were certain about one thing for sure: Their fourth-round pick, Phillip Dillard from Nebraska, has as good a chance at starting at middle linebacker as anyone.

"He's a rugged, inside linebacker; tough, instinctive, smart," Reese said. "We feel like he can come in and start competing for that job right away."

"He's a linebacker that really fit a need and had the grade," Coughlin added.

Right now, the Giants have only Jonathan Goff and Chase Blackburn as true middle linebackers, and neither was overly impressive last season in their auditions to take over for the since-departed Antonio Pierce.

Reese said that the team considered drafting Dillard in the third round, but eventually decided to go with safety Chad Jones and hope that Dillard was still there in the fourth round, which he was.

"He's rangy, he's smart, he can play in coverage," Reese said. "We're going to put him in there and give him a chance. We really think he can be a smart, tough, inside linebacker that we've been looking for."

Not surprisingly, the Giants were also pleased with their next two choices – G Mitch Petrus and LB Adrian Tracy.

Reese said that Petrus "has a vicious nature about him," and that Tracy "is a really good athlete." Tracy, who played DE in college, will start his Giants career at strong-side linebacker. Coughlin likened him to Reggie Torbor, a former Giant that played DE in college but moved to LB on the pro level, but also mentioned that Tracy is a better athlete.

All told, both men were very pleased with their new crop of players.

"We think we drafted good players to add to our team," Reese said. "We added some depth for the team and some athletes that could help on special teams."

"I feel good about the players that were selected," Coughlin said. "I think that this is exactly what is necessary for us. Let's get going."

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