Giants take receiver Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants may have someone to complement Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants finally turned their attention to the offense after ignoring it in free agency and the opening round of the NFL draft and selected Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard in the second round on Friday night.
New York, which has missed the playoffs the past four seasons, went back to fixing the NFL's worst defense in the third round, taking Boise State safety Darien Thompson, the all-time Mountain West leader with 19 interceptions.
General manager Jerry Reese said that Shepard is NFL ready, and that Thompson will have a chance to team with Landon Collins, last year's second-round draft pick.
The key move on Day 2 of the draft was grabbing Shepard and giving Eli Manning a legitimate second option in the passing game.
''He plays in the slot and you just know he is crafty in how to get open in his routes,'' Reese said. ''He has a quickness and explosion in his routes and the run after the catch and the toughness to go over the middle.''
The receiver spot was one of the biggest needs for the Giants heading into the draft after losing Rueben Randle to free agency and uncertainty about the status of Victor Cruz, who has only played six games in the last two seasons, including none last year.
Reese said that Shepard reminded some Giants scouts of Cruz, while coach Ben McAdoo saw similarities to one of his players with the Packers, Randall Cobb.
McAdoo said that Shepard has great hands and plays bigger than his height, 5-foot-10.
Shepard doesn't agree that he is simply a slot receiver.
''Honestly I have played so big that I don't limit myself to inside,'' he said. ''People think that's all I can do, play inside because of my size. But I think that guys like Odell and Victor have proven that's not the case. I am definitely one of those guys that can be bounced around and move all around.''
Beckham has been the focus of the Giants offense the past two seasons, catching 187 passes for 2,755 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Shepard had 86 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season and finished his career with 233 receptions for 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns.
''We are super excited about this guy,'' said Marc Ross, the director of player evaluation, who described Shepard as athletic, savvy and a playmaker.
Thompson creates a crowd in the safety room with Collins, Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor and Mykkele Thompson all back. Berhe, entering his third season, and Mykkele Thompson, going into his second, missed last season with injuries.
Reese said that Darian Thompson is a smart, instinctive free safety, who can also come down in the box and play strong safety.
''The game is about the ball, and he can get the offense the ball,'' McAdoo said.
Darian Thompson said he studies hard and puts himself in the right spot to make plays.
''I have a knack for the football and I feel like an interception is just as much as a touchdown,'' Thompson said.