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Penn State blogger gives BBV the skinny on Alford

The Giants selection of Penn State defensive tackle Jay Alford in the third round of the NFL Draft on Saturday raised some eyebrows. The pick was considered a reach, since most experts figured Alford would be a 5th or 6th-round selection.

Black Shoe Diaries is Sports Blogs Nation's Penn State blog. Our man Mike at BSD has watched Alford's career with the Nittany Lions from up close, and I asked him for his view on the selection.

He actually seems to agree with most experts that, while Alford has a chance to be a useful pro, the Giants may have reached for a player whose impact might not match his draft position.

BSD's report on Alford is below. Thanks, Mike!

I think everyone, even Penn State fans, were surprised to see Jay Alford go in the third round. He didn't participate in much of the combine due to an undisclosed injury. And the areas he did participate in he performed well below his ability. So I think most people projected him more of a fifth or sixth-round pick. A few weeks after the combine Tom Coughlin attended Penn State's pro day to evaluate Levi Brown. He must have seen something in Alford during that visit to warrant a third round pick.

This may be a case where the combine numbers don't do a player justice. Alford had a stellar career at Penn State. He struggled to crack the lineup his first two years in the program. He came in undersized and had to work his butt off to put on 60 pounds. By his junior year in 2005 he claimed a starting spot. With Tamba Hali drawing most of the double teams, Alford was able to rack up 8.5 sacks. Going into his senior year several publications listed him as a pre-season All American and All Big Ten selection. He went on to lead the team in sacks (8.0) and TFL (14.5) as part of a defense that ranked seventh in the country against the run holding opponents to just 87 yards per game.

Alford's strength is his quickness. He has a great first step and can shoot the gap to get good penetration. Plus he's a Penn State kid, so you know he's used to hitting the weight room at 6 a.m. every day and watching hours of film. One thing Giants fans can take heart in is they got a great team player who will not cause problems or distractions in the locker room. Jay's weakness is he's undersized for the NFL. He's not really big enough to play tackle, and he's probably too big to play end. He's a tweener, but his more natural position is defensive tackle.

I don't know if Alford will ever be an every down player in the NFL. His lack of size would make it difficult for him to stop the run play after play. But he can provide depth and be a solid contributor in the defensive line rotation, particularly if he's paired up with Pro Bowl caliber teammates to draw the double teams. But I suspect he'll be more of a third-and-long role player brought in to provide some pass rush.