I hate trying to grade NFL draft picks in the immediate aftermath of their selections. Everyone tries to do it, however, so I might as well offer my own grade on the New York Giants' selection of Prince Amukamara, a cornerback from Nebraska, with the 19th overall selection Thursday night.
There is only one grade I can attach to this right now -- A+. This was a home run for the Giants. A player most analysts saw as a top 10 talent who slid all the way to 19 because of a couple of factors. First, the run on quarterbacks, with four being selected in the first 12 picks. Second, the fact that so many teams picking in front of them acted like the Giants usually do, snapping up defensive linemen all over the place. Seven, in fact, were selected before the Giants' turn came at 19.
The Giants were more than thrilled to find Amukamara available at 19.
"It was a shock. It was a shock. It was a shock. I know we come in and say, "We picked the best player, and we were surprised." This one truly was a shock. Because you go through scenarios leading up to the draft where you kind of have realistic scenarios, somewhat unrealistic scenarios, of what could happen. And this one was just completely out of left field. We never thought this kid would have been still on the board at 19.".
In a quick poll done immediately after the selection, 77 percent of respondents at Big Blue View gave the selection of Amukamara a A grade.
Here is SB Nation's Mocking The Draft summarizing the choice:
With plenty of top players falling, the Giants were able to sit back and take a potential star like Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara with their pick. No one was expecting the Giants to take a cornerback this early. But a player like Amukamara probably shouldn't have been available with the 19th pick. With Amukamara, the Giants have a big cornerback who they can plug in and start immediately.
So, how does Amukamara fit with the Giants? Cornerback was not considered as high a priority entering the draft as several other areas, but if you look closely this selection could work out brilliantly for the Giants.
General Manager Jerry Reese acknowledged after the 2010 season that the Giants surrendered too many big plays on the back end of their defense -- something that has actually been the case for the past two seasons. Current starting corners Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas are good, but neither is a 'shut down' corner, and both are coming off generally sub-par 2010 seasons.
Third cornerback Aaron Ross, the team's No. 1 pick in 2007, has been a disappointment. After a promising rookie season a series of injuries have seemingly taken their toll on Ross. Beyond those three 2010 saw a revolving door of spare parts dot the 53-man roster.
Immediately, the 6-foot, 206-pound Amukamara seems most likely to supplant Ross as the third corner and, eventually, to challenge Thomas for a starting job. Regardless, this gives the Giants quality, depth and the potential of developing a real No. 1 cornerback, something they currently do not have.
"He will have to prove that," Reese said. "He has some qualities probably like that but he would have to prove that. Darrelle Revis has done it. This guy hasn't played a snap yet. But we think he has a really good skill set. And again, he is in the rotation right away. Obviously height, weight, speed guys always play on your special teams. But he is in our rotation right away challenging for a job - for the nickel, for a starting position. So I love that competition. There is going to be some good competition at that corner position."
Giants Coach Tom Coughlin seemed to indicate there are plenty of snaps for all four corners.
"You can never have enough cover guys because if you watch the way people play today with the addition of the receivers, they go one, two, three, four, until they figure out what you're going to cover some of these third, fourth receivers with," Coughlin said. "The more cover people you have, the better off you're going to be."
Again, on paper this pick gets an A+. Now, it is up to Amukamara and the Giants to translate that into an A+ performance on the field.