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Bradshaw Giants' 'lead dog,' but Wilson will play plenty

The Sports Xchange
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Despite winning a world championship, the Giants saw a major issue with finishing last season with an average of 89.2 rushing yards per game, their lowest under head coach Tom Coughlin.

So the Giants did something about it in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, making running back David Wilson their first running back to be chosen in round one since Ron Dayne was plucked out of Wisconsin back in 2000.

The pick for the Giants, who passed over players such as tight end Coby Fleener, defensive end Courtney Upshaw, offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and receiver Stephen Hill, proved to be another classic case of them taking the best player available on their board at a position that also happened to be a need.

"There are certain players that you evaluate that when you go through the process of the draft, there are slight differences of opinion regarding what you think about regarding his speed or toughness or this and that," said Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross. "But in the end, you come away at the end of the report saying, 'This guy is a good football player,' and there is only a handful of players in the draft every year like that. In our meeting, this was one of those guys."

"This kid's a hard-nosed player," added general manager Jerry Reese. "He can run inside and he can run outside."

Wilson, who entered the draft as a junior, set a new Virginia Tech record in his final year of college ball with 1,719 rushing yards, an average of 5.89 yards per attempt. He also scored nine touchdowns and caught 22 passes in 2011.

In addition to his running back duties, Wilson has experience as a kick returner. At Virginia Tech, he tied the school's annual record by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns while accumulating 584 kickoff return yards in his sophomore season, the second-highest yardage by a Hokie. At the end of his career, he had posted 1,324 return yards, fourth-best in school history.

With the Giants having parted with Brandon Jacobs earlier this year, they will be looking for Wilson to complement starter Ahmad Bradshaw, a role that Reese believes the rookie will take to like a hand in glove.

"Ahmad's our led dog," Reese said. "(Wilson) is going to be a nice piece in our running back stable."

Despite his positives, Coughlin was quick to acknowledge the areas that Wilson will have to address once he arrives at the team's headquarters, such as pass protection and ball security. Last season, Wilson had seven fumbles, losing four of them.

Coughlin also said that Wilson offered the potential for the big play, something that was also lacking with the Giants last year, as their longest run from scrimmage was 37 yards, by Bradshaw. In all, the Giants had just 31 big-play runs of 10 or more yards last season.

"(Wilson) is the kind of guy that we felt would add to our present situation in terms of the big play potential" Coughlin said. "He's one of those guys that has the speed and the maneuverability to make the big play and that's what was very important to us at this time."

Wilson, who said that he didn't have much contact with the Giants outside of the Combine, was described by Ross as a "unique" running back who doesn't really mirror anyone else currently in the league.

"He's smaller and faster, but has real thick thighs. He's real powerful for a little guy. His balance is incredible, just the way he can stay on his feet and come out of a pile. But he also has speed."

In other day one news, the Giants announced the signing of unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, a 12-year veteran who played last season with the Saints. Rogers, who is a former Pro Bowler, will provide veteran depth at defensive tackle, replacing Rocky Bernard, who is currently unsigned.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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