EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** In 2013, injuries to their veterans forced the Giants to play inexperienced and ineffective offensive linemen. The result was an offense that finished 28th in the NFL in total yardage, 29th in rushing and Eli Manning absorbing a career-high 39 sacks, a chain of events general manager Jerry Reese today called, "pretty devastating."
Richburg, 6-3 and 298 pounds, started all 50 games in his career for the Rams, a school record. He will compete with another newcomer, veteran J.D. Walton, for the starting center job.
"This guy is a really good, athletic center," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He's one of those guys, one of those bonus guys. Not a lot of centers can pull, this guy can snap the ball and pull and get out on the perimeter. He was terrific. He was an ideal pick for us, a clean pick. A lot of things we liked about him."
His ability and durability were two significant factors. So was Richburg's toughness.
"Interesting story about him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He broke his right hand in 2012 and finished the year snapping the ball with his left hand, so you know he can do that as well. We feel like we have a good solid young center who is very smart."
He'll have to be in the offensive system being installed by new coordinator Ben McAdoo, because he'll be calling many of the blocking schemes at the line of scrimmage.
"The center is very much involved, but in this scheme there will be more responsibility on the center," Coughlin said
"I think I can come in and contribute," Richburg said. "It's going to take a lot of work, but I think that's something that's carried me this far is my work ethic. I enjoy working and now it's my job, that's even the cool part about it. It's my job to lift weights, to watch film, to get better playing football. I want to come in and try to contribute to this year and really help this organization be as successful as it can be."
Richburg took an unusual route to becoming an outstanding center prospect. He played quarterback as a freshman at Bushland High School in Texas. Richburg missed the next two seasons with ACL injuries before playing on the offensive line only as a senior. But he realized a goal when the Giants chose him.
"I wanted to be the first center selected and it turns out I was," Richburg said. "I'm just so excited to be selected by such a great organization.
"I've always been a guy from a smaller school. Even though Colorado State is a Division 1 school, it's in the Mountain West, so we don't get a lot of respect sometimes. When it comes to going against other big school guys, it's always been my dream to be the best center in the country. Today, I kind of got that recognition by being the first center selected."
Richburg's selection led to questions about the health of Walton, who missed the entire 2013 season and played in just four games in 2012 because of a severe ankle injury. Prior to that, he started the first 36 games of his career for the Denver Broncos.
"He missed last season but he's been out here and he looks like he was 100 percent out there," Reese said. "He's doing great for us. We expect him to be the guy who Richburg is going to battle for that center position. Obviously you need depth at every position and that's the position that we think Richburg will provide for us, some depth at center, which is his natural position, but we think he could play guard as well. Again, last year we had a couple injuries early on the offensive line and it was pretty devastating, we had to bring some guys in that struggled some at those positions, so we're trying to make sure we have enough depth at every position. This guy will help provide that for us."
Check out college photos of Colorado State Center Weston Richburg