Giants trade up to take Collins in the second round
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Looking at their board after the first round of the NFL draft ended, the New York Giants saw an opportunity.
Alabama safety Landon Collins was there and sticking out, a talented player with a chip on his shoulder who could fit a gaping hole in the defense.
The Crimson Tide star had been projected as a first-round pick and slipped.
So the Giants went to work and engineered a trade with the Tennessee Titans before the start of the second round on Friday and selected the safety with 33rd pick overall.
The Giants sent their second round, fourth round and their second pick in the seventh round to the Titans for the right to move up seven spots.
''He is smart, tough, physical, carries himself like a pro since the day he got to Alabama. He was one of the best interviews at the combine,'' said Marc Ross, the vice president of player evaluation. ''This guy will bring an attitude and maturity to the defense. This guy will be a leader for us.''
New York finished 29th overall on defense. Collins is a perfect fit to shore up the back line of the secondary that gave up way too many big plays. They lost Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown to free agency and they only had two young inexperienced players on the roster, Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor.
The Giants also looked to shore up the defense in the third round, taking UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a talented productive athlete who still has room to develop.
Collins is more the finished product and would appear to be ready to step in and start next season.
''I am going to be a dominant player when I touch the field,'' Collins said in a telephone interview, saying he was hurt that he wasn't selected in the first round.
Strong against the run, Collins can play either free or strong safety. He led the Crimson Tide with 103 tackles last season, intercepted three passes, recovered two fumbles and forced another. The tackle total was a record for an Alabama defensive back.
While he never likes to give up picks, coach Tom Coughlin felt the deal with the Titans was fair one which filled a major need.
''If you want something that is above you, you have to give it up,'' said Coughlin, whose team has missed the playoffs three straight seasons, finishing 6-10 last season.
After the first round ended, Collins tweeted that he would not let the first round of the draft define him.
''He thought he would go in the first round. He needs to come in here and prove to everybody that he should have,'' Coughlin said. ''That is a good situation. Any time we've have had that one, it has turned out pretty well for us.''
Ross said that Collins has great instincts on the field and is aggressive running to the ball.
''For a safety those are key elements,'' Ross said. ''You have to see it and react to it. Some guys see it and don't want to react to it. Some guys can't see it. This guy sees it fast, reacts fast and gets to the ball, that's why he has so many tackles.''
The Giants took big offensive tackle Ereck Flowers with the ninth pick overall on Thursday night. He is the second offensive lineman to be taken by the Giants in the first round in the past three years.
Odighizuwa is a very athletic defensive end, the type of player that general manager Jerry Reese loves to draft.
''Great athlete. Big and fast. Long arms. Big Hands. Really a clean player, captain,'' Reese said. ''There are a lot of things to like about him. He plays hard. We think there's a lot of upside. When you start picking guys in the third round, those are guys that have some things they have to get better at, some developmental qualities that they have to get better at, but this guy, all of his gymnastic stuff he did at the combine were really off the charts.''
New York did not have a need at the end spot, but Odighizuwa had impressive statistics this season, recording 61 tackles and registering 6 sacks. He did not play in 2013 following hip surgery.
The Giants took offensive tackle Ereck Flowers of Miami with the ninth pick overall in the first round. They will have picks in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds on Saturday and still need help at defensive tackle and inside linebacker.
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