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Giants draft speed, defense on final day

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Six of the seven players the Giants acquired on the final day of the NFL Draft play defense, but the team's primary goal went deeper than simply replenishing one unit.

"The theme of the day for defense was speed," general manager Dave Gettleman said after the seven-hour marathon that was the final four rounds. "We really feel like we improved our team's speed and that was what we were trying to do."

"Dave hit this off the bat, the theme of the day was speed," coach Joe Judge said.

The Giants believe they significantly upgraded theirs, which is vital in today's up-tempo, no-huddle, let's-score-quickly NFL.

Another theme is versatility, as many of the players selected will get a look at multiple positions.

The Giants' third-day selections were defensive backs Darnay Holmes of UCLA and Chris Williamson of Minnesota; guard Shane Lemieux of Oregon; outside linebackers Cam Brown of Penn State and Carter Coughlin of Minnesota; and inside linebackers TJ Brunson of South Carolina and Tae Crowder of Georgia.

"We had a good day today," Gettleman said. "I'm very pleased with what happened."

The players secured on Saturday joined the threesome selected in the draft's first three rounds: tackle Andrew Thomas from Georgia, taken with the fourth overall selection; safety Xavier McKinney of Alabama, chosen fourth in the second round and 36th overall; and tackle Matt Peart of Connecticut, picked in the third round, 99th overall.

By position, the Giants chose three offensive linemen, one safety, two defensive backs, two outside linebackers and two inside linebackers. The Giants drafted 10 players for the second straight year.

This is believed to be the first draft ever in which the Giants selected four linebackers. They chose three offensive linemen in one draft for the first time since 1989 – when the draft was 12 rounds. That year, the Giants chose center Brian Williams from Minnesota in the first round, guard Bob Kratch from Iowa in the third and tackle Dave Popp from Eastern Illinois in the seventh.

View photos of the entire 10-member New York Giants 2020 Draft Class

A look at the Giants' third-day selections:

*Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA, 5-10, 198, fourth round, No. 110 overall

Holmes was a three-year starter for the Bruins, for whom he played in 35 games with 33 starts. His career totals included 121 tackles (89 solo), eight interceptions, 28 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also averaged 23.1 yards on 38 kickoff returns, including a 93-yard touchdown in 2018.

Like many of the Giants' young defensive backs, Holmes will initially work at several spots.

"He's a corner, he plays the nickel," Gettleman said. "He will come in and compete for that spot right away. He's a tough kid, he can run. We're excited we were able to get him."

"Darnay is definitely a guy that jumps out at you," Judge said. "He's got good speed, he's got real good short area quickness. He's contributed on the defensive side of the ball, he's had impact in the kicking game. He plays with a good edge, shows some nasty. You can see he definitely plays bigger than his size. He's a guy that jumped out at us at the Senior Bowl. His tape backed up what we saw down there. I'm really happy we were able to add him today."

Holmes earned a degree in African-American studies in three years. His father, Darick Holmes, rushed for 1,769 yards and 11 touchdowns for Buffalo, Green Bay and Indianapolis from 1995-99. His older brother (Darick Jr.) played wide receiver at Arizona from 2015-18.

"I'm going to be an asset, I'm not going to be a liability," Holmes said. "I'm just going to play my part and maximize my role, for sure. … I can't tell you where I'm going to play, I'm just ready to contribute. Wherever they put me, I'm going to maximize that role and I'm going to make sure that I understand that role. That's my main thing is understanding it and grasping all the concepts."

*Shane Lemieux, G, Oregon, 6-4, 310, fifth round, No. 150 overall

Lemieux was an iron man who started 52 consecutive games for the Ducks at left guard. He was a two-time first-team All-Pac 12 selection by the Associated Press and second team by the league's coaches. In 2019, he was selected as a first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated and second team by the AP. Lemieux helped Oregon finish as one of seven FBS teams with at least 35 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing touchdowns. He was also a team captain.

"This is a tough kid who plays mad," Gettleman said. "He's big, he's powerful, he's a pretty good athlete. We're excited to add him to the mix."

"He plays with nasty," Judge said. "You turn the Auburn game on and right from the first snap, he's tossing bodies around. You can't help but watch him. In a lot of crossover tape he jumps out at you as well. He's a guy that's going to have interior swing value. We're going to cross train him at guard and center. It's something he has been working on out at Oregon and we're going to keep on building with that as well."

*Cam Brown, OLB, Penn State, 6-5, 233, sixth round, No. 183 overall

Brown played in 51 games with 26 starts at Penn State, including starts in 12 of 13 games in each of his final two seasons. He concluded his career with 199 tackles (99 solo), including 15 stops for loss; 5.0 sacks; 11 passes defensed; four forced fumbles; and two fumble recoveries. Brown had a career-high 72 tackles (28 solo) as a senior and a career-best 41 unassisted stops in his junior season.

"(He is) a big, long kid out of Penn State," Gettleman said. "He's 6-5 and change, he's 230, he runs well. Cam and all the young men we took in the seventh round, we think they are players with good developmental qualities and tools. They all can run, every one of these guys can run. We're excited about that."

"Physically, he's got good length," Judge said of Brown. "He's got a frame to fill out and play. He plays with good energy. He plays aggressive and downhill. He's going to be bring versatility on the edge as well as a little bit of stack backer value. He brings impact in the kicking game with us."

Sean Spencer, the Giants' defensive line coach, spent the previous six seasons at Penn State.

"(Spencer) has spoken very highly of Cam since he got here," Judge said "He's also a guy that when you talk to other guys on Penn State and you hit them with who the leader on the defense is, without hesitation they all said Cam Brown. That stuck out to us. He's been an alpha dog in the locker room and that brings the attitude we really look for on the field."

*Carter Coughlin, OLB, Minnesota, 6-3, 236, seventh round, No. 218 overall

Coughlin played in 49 games with 39 starts – including starts in each of his final 38 games - in four seasons with the Golden Gophers. He was selected second-team All-Big Ten as a junior and senior and was an academic all-conference selection in each of his last three years. Coughlin finished his career with 159 tackles (107 solo). He is third in school history with 22.5 sacks and fourth with 40 tackles for loss. Coughlin also forced seven fumbles and recovered one. He is part of an athletic Minnesota family. His father, grandfather, uncle and cousin played football, and his mother played tennis for the state university. In addition, he grew up a few doors down from Ryan Connelly, a linebacker the Giants drafted last year, and they were teammates at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota.

"He's a guy that gives us more speed on the edge," Judge said. "He brings some length with him. He plays with a high motor and a lot of aggressiveness. He was productive in Minnesota's scheme and with the way we are going to play guys on the edge in different packages, he's someone with a lot of value. He will come in here and compete."

*TJ Brunson, ILB, South Carolina, 6-1, 220, seventh round, No. 238 overall (choice obtained from New Orleans)

Brunson played in 49 games, including starts in each of his last 38 contests for the Gamecocks. He totaled 283 tackles (164 solo), including 21.0 for loss and 6.0 sacks. Brunson also had one interception, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and four fumble recoveries. As a senior in 2019, he finished second on the team with 77 tackles (44 solo), including 6.0 tackles for loss and was a team captain. Brunson graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

"He's fast, he's really athletic, he's got good instincts," Gettleman said. "He's just a little bit on the small side, but he plays at about 230. We feel like he will be a really good fit and also has a lot of special teams value."

"He's a guy you see making tackles sideline to sideline," Judge said. "He's also a guy in South Carolina's scheme, and (coach Will) Mushchamp's scheme down there isn't the simplest. Guys have been challenged mentally being down there. They've been coached hard. It's very similar to the guys we talked about playing at Georgia and Alabama. Very similar schemes, very similar cultures. He's a guy that was out there making a lot of calls, so you can see the communication element with him on the field as well as the productivity on the field."

*Chris Williamson, CB Minnesota, 6-0, 200, seventh round, No. 247 overall (compensatory selection)

Williamson began his collegiate career at the University of Florida, where he played in 14 games in 2015-16. He transferred to Minnesota and after sitting out the 2017 season, he played in 24 games for the Gophers, including nine as a starter last season. He recorded 57 tackles (37 solo), including four for loss and 2.5 sacks, broke up three passes and intercepted one pass that he returned 43 yards for a touchdown against South Dakota State.

"Good-sized kid," Gettleman said. "He's long, he can run, and he'll hit you."

"This is a guy who's going to have some combination corner to safety," Judge said. "We call it the star position, that nickel position as well. He'll bring some position flexibility in the defensive backfield. He's got a good size and speed combination. We look for him to compete at multiple positions this year."

*Tae Crowder, ILB, Georgia, 6-1, 240, seventh round, No. 255 overall (compensatory selection, final pick in the draft)

Crowder began his collegiate career as a running back before moving to linebacker midway through his redshirt freshman season in 2016. After playing in just one game that year, Crowder appeared in 43 contests in his final three seasons. His career totals include 122 tackles (50 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles.,

"He's a 245-pound kid that runs 4.6 and plays 4.6," Gettleman said. "He's got some versatility and some value and definitely has some special teams value."

"This is a guy that's only played a couple years at linebacker," Judge said. "We see a lot of upside with him, both in his physical skills as well as his emerging defensive understanding. He'll come in and compete for positions at that Will linebacker spot as well as give impact to the kicking game. We think we added a very competitive group over these last few days. We think today we brought in a lot of guys with versatility and speed."

Which is exactly what they were looking for.


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