EAST RUTHERFORD - Surrendering 427 points in 2009 has significantly influenced the Giants' offseason decisions in 2010.
The Giants this evening continued to use their selections in the NFL Draft to bolster their defense. In the second round, they chose their second lineman, defensive tackle Linval Joseph of East Carolina with the 46th overall selection. Joseph, 6-4 and 315 pounds, joins end Jason Pierre-Paul, the first-round choice, as the new additions to the defensive line.
In the third round, the Giants moved to strengthen the back of their defense by choosing LSU safety Chad Jones, a 6-2, 221-pounder with the 76th overall selection.
All three of the Giants' draft choices entered the draft after their junior seasons.
General manager Jerry Reese and Coach Tom Coughlin believe Pierre-Paul, Joseph and Jones can help prevent another points onslaught in the upcoming season.
"We want to get better with our defense," Reese said after choosing Joseph. "We had a lot of points scored on us last fall. We are trying to upgrade our defense. We are trying to upgrade the entire football team, but we feel good about these past two picks, our first and second round picks."
While Pierre-Paul is more of an edge pass rusher, Joseph is a stout defender in the middle of the defensive line. A three-year performer for the Pirates, Joseph played in 41 games with 27 starts. He finished his career with 143 tackles (57 solo), 29.5 tackles for losses totaling 96 yards, 6.5 sacks for 47 yards, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
"I like to stop the run," Joseph said. "I like to hit the running back. I don't know why, I just like to hit a running back. So I like to play inside; I feel comfortable inside. On third down, I like to get outside and try to hit the quarterback."
Joseph has many attributes, but one in particular stood out to the Giants.
"Gigantic man, that's where I can start with him," said Reese, who added that Joseph can play nose tackle or the three-technique defensive tackle. "He's a big human being. He's powerful inside and a run stuffer. Push the pocket back toward the quarterback. Strong kid with a lot of upside.
"His strength is that he is a big man. He is a powerful force on a pass play. He doesn't get pushed back an awful lot from the line of scrimmage and he holds his ground. He cleans up the lanes for the linebackers. I wouldn't call him a pass rusher but he is disruptive. He can push the pocket and push the offensive linemen back in the quarterback's lap.
Coughlin was similarly impressed with Joseph.
"He is an athletic young player, very strong – 39 reps on the bench (press of 225 pounds)," Coughlin said. "Stays down, very quick, you see a lot of athleticism and quickness in his play. You see more in terms of the tackles and the assists. He does have the ability to walk the offensive guard back. He doesn't have a lot of production in the sack game. He does have thrown for losses, tackles for loss, pressures on the quarterback. A big, strong defensive tackle that can play on the center or as a three-technique, and a young guy, again, that we can work with."
In 2009, Joseph was an All-Conference USA first-team choice by the league's coaches when he started all 14 games at right defensive tackle, helping pace a unit that ranked second in the conference and 27th nationally vs. the run (120.3 yards per game), led the league in scoring defense (21.9 points per game) and ranked third in total defense (378.3 yards per game). Joseph recorded a career-best 60 tackles (22 solo) with three sacks for minus-17 yards. He led the team and ranked sixth in the conference with 13.0 stops for losses of 39 yards and tied for the team lead with 14 quarterback pressures.
"This guy is a big anchor," Reese said. "He is a load inside and it's hard to push this man back. He is kind of like one of those guys who is a presence and is like a human post. He'll give the linebackers a chance to run to the ball and he will block the inside."
The Giants again have a large stockpile of defensive linemen. Joseph joins holdover tackles Barry Cofield, Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Jay Alford (who missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing knee surgery). At end, Pierre-Paul will vie for playing time with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Dave Tollefson.
"It is a good problem for us to have," Reese said. "We like to create competition at every position, so we should see some good competition on our defensive line. Again, you have to have some big people in this league. We play a lot of teams that have big offensive linemen like Dallas and Philadelphia and the Redskins. They have big offensive linemen and you have to match those guys."
Joseph, who will wear No. 97, believes he can do exactly that. He was born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and was a two-time All-State Class AAA selection at Sante Fe High School in Gainesville, Fla.
"First off, I can bring a big body," he said. "I'm ready to do everything. I can play inside and outside. (I'm) explosive. I want to help the team out any way I can.
"Right now I'm ready to play the nose or the three, wherever I'm needed. Wherever I can help in or whatever position, I'm ready. I can play both so I'm ready for the opportunity."
Jones is also prepared for his chance. He joins a safety rotation that includes Kenny Phillips, the 2008 first-round draft choice who is coming off knee surgery; offseason acquisitions Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant; and former starter Michael Johnson.
Jones played in 40 games with 19 starts at LSU - 13 at free safety and six as the nickel back. He recorded 157 tackles (84 solo) with 7.5 stops for losses of 45 yards. Jones added two sacks for minus-25 yards and six quarterback pressures, as he deflected 15 passes and intercepted five others for 81 yards in returns (16.2-yard average).
Jones forced four fumbles and blocked one punt. On special teams, he returned seven kickoffs for 120 yards (17.1-yard average) and 31 punts for 336 yards and one touchdown (10.8-yard average). His 93-yard punt return for a touchdown vs. Mississippi State in 2009 was the second-longest punt return in school history behind Eddie Kennison's 100 yard return vs. Mississippi State in 1994.
Jones also caught one pass for 21 yards.
In addition, Jones is an outstanding baseball player who was a relief pitcher and outfielder on the Tigers' 2009 national championship team. He and Jared Mitchell were teammates on that squad and LSU's 2007 national championship football team and are
the only two players in NCAA history to capture a BCS football title and a College World Series crown.
"Chad is a young, versatile player," said Marc Ross, the Giants' Director of College Scouting. "He is a safety who plays in the box, and they play him deep. He returns punts. This kid has a nice, versatile skill set of things that he can do. He's a big kid - 221 pounds, 6-2. He can run and he's strong. He may have some of the best pure hands in the draft, out of any position. You can really see this kid's baseball skills, like hand-eye coordination catching the football. He can really catch it.
"He plays baseball, so he hasn't had a lot of offseason football training. But we're looking forward to what he can do in full-time football."