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Giants moving Kiwanuka to linebacker

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The biggest news the Giants made during Day 2 of the draft Sunday had nothing to do with who they selected.

It was the announcement by GM Jerry Reese that Mathias Kiwanuka, drafted No. 1 a year ago as a defensive end, will be the starting strong-side, or SAM, linebacker this season.

This from a report by Ernie Palladino of the Journal News.

"No question Kiwanuka can make the transition," Reese said. "He's athletic, long. That's what you want out there, that height (on first and second down). And then, we can put him up there and let him rush some."

Reese said the decision to move Kiwanuka from defensive end was made well before the draft.

"We had him penciled in at the SAM a long time ago."

This explains some of the decisions made by the Giants on Day 1 of the draft -- most notably why they didn't take a linebacker.

There had been rumors that the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Kiwanuka would move to linebacker, but nothing concrete on that until now. I think this could turn out to be a tremendous move.

'Kiwi' has the speed and athleticism to cover backs and make plays on the outside, and could be a pass-rushing force as a blitzer off the edge.

Free-agent signee Kawika Mitchell and Gerris Wilkinson will compete for playing time on the weak side, according to Reese.

This also opens playing time for backup defensive end Justin Tuck, and helps explain the third-round selection of defensive lineman Jay Alford, who many feel has the flexibility to play both tackle and end.

Very savvy move by Reese not to let this news get out before the draft, thus possibly tipping the Giants hand on what they might do with their Day 1 selections.

The Giants did select a linebacker in the fourth round, selecting Zak DeOssie of Brown. Right here, I'll just say I thought that was a terrific selection at that point in the draft.

More on DeOssie and the rest of the Giants' second-day selections in an upcoming post.

Your thoughts on Kiwanuka to linebacker?