Reese Nails it With Top Pick

AP/Michael Conroy

Four years ago in the bowels of Giants Stadium, general manager Ernie Accorsi walked into the press room and explained the Giants' selection of Mathias Kiwanuka 32nd overall.

The Giants were stocked at defensive end. You couldn't find anybody who had predicted the Giants would take this kid out of Boston College.

"You can never have too many pass-rushing defensive ends,'' Accorsi said.

Accorsi was right about that, the way he was right about Eli Manning when some of us considered that pick more risk than reward. The Giants needed Kiwanuka, if not immediately than soon. They still need him. Pass-rushing defensive ends are NFL jewels.

Reese borrowed a page from Accorsi's book during the draft's first round. Reese and his lieutenants put their heads together and selected another defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul out of South Florida, with the 15th pick. You couldn't find anybody who had predicted the Giants would take this kid, just like with Kiwanuka.

Accorsi's successor walked into the auditorium at the Giants' new training complex, across the street from the new stadium. But Reese was far bolder in describing Pierre-Paul than Accorsi was with Kiwanuka.

Reese called Pierre-Paul a rare talent with freakish athletic skills. "This guy is really going to do a tremendous job coming in to help us rush the passer,'' Reese said. "All those kind of things he has, you know, it's hard to find a package like that.''

By now you've probably heard the criticism of Reese's selection. How Pierre-Paul has only one season of Division I ball under his belt. How he didn't play a full season of football until his senior year in high school. How he lacks skills against the run.

Even coach Tom Coughlin admitted the pick had a level of risk-reward attached to it. But this was a risk worth taking when the Giants lost their primary pick, Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain to the Raiders at No. 8. It was too much to ask for McClain to be around when the Giants' turn came. The way it became too much to ask the Giants defense to stop anybody for much of last season.

Pierre-Paul is 6-foot-4 ½ and 270 pounds with uncommon speed and quickness. The Giants will need Kiwanuka next season. They will need Osi Umenyiora. And they will need Pierre-Paul, if not immediately than soon.

The Giants went on the clock at 9:04 p.m.. But they've really been on the clock since the moment their miserable 2009 season came to a fitting conclusion in Minnesota on the third day of January. That's the day the Giants finished their season with a dreadful loss to the Vikings. And it was the day that Giants decision-makers went on the clock. They had to get healthy. But they also had to get back to drafting players who could help them in games instead of on the practice field.

Reese had a heck of a rookie year in the 2007 draft. He plucked cornerback Aaron Ross in the first round. Reese took receiver Steve Smith in the second round. Reese took defensive tackle Jay Alford in the third round out of Penn State, and tight end Kevin Boss in the fifth round.

All those four did was play enormous roles in the Giants' Super Bowl stunner over New England. But Reese hasn't been so good lately. Only receiver Hakeem Nicks made any kind of impact from the Giants' 2009 draft class. Reese needs to be right about Pierre-Paul.

"He has things you can't teach,'' Reese said. "He's a rare gifted, talented kid. He's long, he's fast, he's athletic, he's tough; he has a great motor.''

Pierre-Paul better be all of those things. The Giants made enough mistakes last season. They can't afford to start making mistakes in the ensuing draft.

But the smart money should be on Reese. He's still one of the brighter evaluators of talent in the NFL. He helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in his rookie year as GM. This is the kind of pick that can help the Giants win another one.

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