The New York Giants might have a "best player available" philosophy in the NFL Draft. Don't ever let general manager Jerry Reese tell you that positional need does not impact the value they put on players and how they set their draft board, however. The selection Thursday night of Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the 32nd pick of the first round can be viewed as an example that need is more important to Reese than he wants anyone to think.
Before the draft Reese said he was "conscious" of what the Giants needs were. Can it be a complete coincidence that when the Giants' turn came the highest-rated player on their draft board was at their position of most obvious need? Probably not.
"Terrific football player. He's a good piece to put in our running back stable along with some of the other backs that we have and we're happy to have a player of his caliber," Reese said Thursday night. "He can run inside. He can run outside. I don't think Ahmad's role is going to change. He's going to be our lead dog and again, this guy is going to be a nice piece in our running back stable." [Complete Reese Transcript]
Here is how Giants' coach Tom Coughlin reacted to the selection of Wilson:
"... he's the kind of guy that we felt would add very much to our present situation in terms of the big play potential," Coughlin said. "He's one of the guys that has the speed and maneuverability to make the big play and that's what was very important to us at this time. We were fortunate in that the players that we had set aside were all of need, need positions, and this guy was the highest rated." [Complete Coughlin Transcript]
Again, that makes you wonder how need and value ended up intersecting on the Giants' draft board.
Giants' Director Of College Scouting Marc Ross said the Wilson pick was "very easy" for the Giants to make and expressed the belief that Wilson will be an elite NFL back.
"In the draft there are certain players that you evaluate when you go through the process that despite differences on what you think his speed or toughness or this and that is, you come away at the end of your report saying this guy's a good football player," Ross said. "There are only a handful of those guys in the draft every year and in our meeting this was one of those players where everybody, despite what you may have thought, came away at the end of the report and said this guy's a good football player. That's very intriguing." [Complete Ross Transcript]
In three years at Virginia Tech, Wilson, 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, played in 40 games with 15 starts. He had 462 carries for 2,662 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 37 passes for 363 yards (9.8-yard average) and five scores and returned 61 kickoffs for 1,324 yards (21.7-yard average). Wilson touched the football 560 times for 4,349 all-purpose yards, an average of 7.8 yards per attempt and 108.7 yards a game.
In 2011 Wilson was chosen All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team and was named both the league's Most Valuable Player and its Offensive Player of the Year. He led the ACC and ranked eighth in the nation with an average of 122.2 rushing yards per game.