EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Having addressed the back of their defense earlier in the evening, the Giants turned to their defensive front in the third round, when they selected UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
A 6-3, 271-pounder, Odighizuwa was a second-team All-Pac 12 Conference selection last year after missing the entire 2013 season following two hip surgeries. A team captain, he started all 13 games and finished with 61 tackles (41 solo), 6.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses.
Just as important, he demonstrated he has the intangibles that left the Giants confident he can be a productive defensive end who can harass opposing quarterbacks as an outside or inside pass rusher.
"(He is a) great athlete," general manager Jerry Reese said. "Big and fast. Long arms. Big Hands. Really a clean player, captain. There are a lot of things to like about him. He plays hard. We think there's a lot of upside.
"When you start picking guys in the third round, those are guys that have some things they have to get better at, some developmental qualities that they have to get better at, but this guy, all of his gymnastic stuff he did at the combine was really off the charts. You rarely see guys with this kind of athletic ability with respect that the gymnastic numbers show. There are a lot of things to like about him. We just think we can get a guy in the third round who's going to be a core special teams player while he's learning how to adjust to the game up here. He's a big, powerful guy. An amazing body. We're hoping to hit on this guy as a pass-rusher. He can play inside. Our coaches like that he can go inside and play. We think he'll be a matchup problem as an inside rusher as well."
Coach Tom Coughlin said Odighizuwa was so moved after being drafted he began to weep when the Giants called him.
"I was definitely very emotional," Odighizuwa said. "Just finally getting my name called and knowing that I'm going to be living out my dream and working and playing professional football was a very emotional moment for me."
The Giants opened the draft's second day by trading with the Tennessee Titans to acquire the first pick in the second round, which they used to take Alabama safety Landon Collins. The Giants surrendered the 40th, 108th and 245th selections to secure the 33rd pick.
Odighizuwa was drafted with the 74th overall selection, which coincidentally was where the Giants drafted another defensive end, Justin Tuck, 10 years ago. In nine seasons with the Giants, Tuck had 59.5 sacks, contributed to a pair of Super Bowl victories and played in two Pro Bowls.
"I certainly hope the results (for Odighizuwa) are that," coach Tom Coughlin said.
"Justin started out playing a lot on special teams and developed into a really good player," Reese said. "We think this guy can do the same thing."
Odighizuwa played four seasons for UCLA (2010-12 and 2014). He played in 51 games with 21 starts and had 136 tackles (85 solo), 12.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for losses.
"I like the effort," Coughlin said. "I like to see a guy that just goes and goes and goes. He seems to have that kind of a motor. I like that. He plays hard.
"What I always talk about – you have to win the line of scrimmage with the defensive line and the offensive line. I think this guy gives us a chance to get back into that business, run or pass."
"He is more of a power guy on the outside," said vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross. "They put him inside, so he uses his quickness a little more inside. He is actually more accomplished inside right now than outside. Outside, he is a power guy – let me try to run you over. He has some sneaky quickness inside, so they do both with him. That was definitely attractive to us and our defensive coaches."
The Giants were not put off by the two hip surgeries that cost Odighizuwa the 2013 season.
"We talked about that," Reese said. "But our doctors think he's fine and they cleared him, so we picked him. That definitely was a concern for us, but he has no restrictions at this point."
Odighizuwa said his hip issues might have caused him to drop in the draft.
"I'm sure that could have played a part in it," he said. "There could be a lot of different factors. You just never know what teams are thinking when it comes to draft day. Regardless of what it was, that's behind me. I'm looking forward to just being a part of this organization and competing and getting ready to play football."
Photos of UCLA DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa