A trading frenzy gripped almost half the league in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. There were 19 trades involving first-round selections, the most since at least 1970. The dealing began weeks ago and ended with the 31st selection.
The Giants, choosing 32nd and last thanks to their victory in Super Bowl XLVI, were content to sit in their draft room and watch it all unfold, confident they would land a player rated high on their draft board who could contribute immediately.
And that's exactly what they did. Late Thursday night, they concluded the first round by selecting David Wilson, a fast and talented running back from Virginia Tech who should fill the backfield vacancy left by Brandon Jacobs' departure.
"(He is a) terrific football player," general manager Jerry Reese said. "This guy loves to play football. We like all of that stuff about him. He's fast. He's productive. He can do anything you want him to do. He can catch the ball. He can return kicks. … He's a good piece to put in our running back stable along with some of the other backs that we have and we're happy to have a player of his caliber."
"This young man was attractive to us for many reasons," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Obviously his speed, you have a 4.4 running back. You have a guy who's the ACC Player of the Year, 1,700 yards rushing, kickoff returns for a career over a thousand yards, 1,300-plus yards, caught the ball out of the backfield. Needs some work in some of the other areas - pass protection and that kind of thing, as do a lot of these young guys. And also the question comes up about ball security and we'll remind him of that right away.
"He's the kind of guy that we felt would add very much to our present situation in terms of the big play potential. He's one of the guys that has the speed and maneuverability to make the big play and that's what was very important to us at this time. We were fortunate in that the players that we had set aside were all of need, need positions, and this guy was the highest rated.
"We're looking at the fact that Brandon is no longer here and we do have to try to balance that out. We believe that you do have to have multiple runners or at least two that can effectively take the field at any time and this young man we thought was one of those that can be a big play threat."
Wilson was just as thrilled to join the Giants as the team was to land him.
"I was sitting on the bed and the Giants had the last pick in the first round," Wilson said. "And then Tampa Bay traded (up), and I thought, 'Maybe they'll get a running back. I know they need a running back.' At that point, I was hoping for anything. The Giants are Super Bowl champions, and I'm like 'They probably won't pick me…' I was just hoping that something would happen, and I get the New Jersey call and I start screaming. I answered the phone and it was the New York Giants. It was the best call that I got in a long time."
Reese said the Giants were never tempted to join the trading tumult and move up from the bottom of the round.
"There were still several players on the board that we liked," Reese said. "David was rated our highest player there. It was the best value, because he was the highest player there at the time, and it was a little bit of a need pick for us as well. You like to get a combination of both things and we were able to do that tonight."
Reese said Wilson was the second-highest rated running back on the Giants' draft board, behind only Alabama's Trent Richardson, who was chosen third overall by the Cleveland Browns – following a trade, of course.
That was due not only to Wilson's impressive work on the field, but his impeccable conduct off it.
"Tremendous, tremendous," was how Marc Ross, the director of college scouting, summarized the reports on Wilson. "'The best I've ever coached' kind of reports. 'Best worker in here.' 'Pound for pound strongest. 'Loves the game.' When you get those types of accolades from coaches, trainers, equipment people, whoever deals with the kid, and blend it together with a great football player you can't go wrong.
"In the draft there are certain players that you evaluate when you go through the process that despite differences on what you think his speed or toughness or this and that is, you come away at the end of your report saying this guy's a good football player. There are only a handful of those guys in the draft every year and in our meeting this was one of those players where everybody, despite what you may have thought, came away at the end of the report and said this guy's a good football player. That's very intriguing."
Wilson, who left Virginia Tech after his junior year, is the first offensive player chosen by the Giants on the first round since Hakeem Nicks in 2009 and the first running back since Wisconsin's Ron Dayne in 2000. He is the first player the Giants have ever drafted from Virginia Tech.
In three years at Virginia Tech, Wilson, 5-9 and 205 pounds, played in 40 games with 15 starts. He had 462 carries for 2,662 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 37 passes for 363 yards (9.8-yard average) and five scores and returned 61 kickoffs for 1,324 yards (21.7-yard average). Wilson touched the football 560 times for 4,349 all-purpose yards, an average of 7.8 yards per attempt and 108.7 yards a game. He ran for more than 100 yards in 12 of those contests, the fourth-best career total in Hokies history.
Wilson had a spectacular junior season in 2011, when he started all 14 games. He was chosen All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team and was named both the league's Most Valuable Player and its Offensive Player of the Year. He led the ACC and ranked eighth in the nation with an average of 122.2 rushing yards per game, carrying 290 times for a school season-record 1,709 yards (5.9 yards a carry) and nine touchdowns. Wilson tied the school season-record with ten 100-yard rushing performances, including a streak of seven in a row, the longest string by a Tech ball carrier since Frank Beamer became the head coach in 1987. He also had 22 receptions for 129 yards (5.9-yard average) and a score. For the second straight year he led the Hokies with 22 kickoff returns for 415 yards (18.9-yard average). Wilson totaled 2,253 all-purpose yards, ranking second in the league and eighth in the nation with an average of 160.9 yards per game.
An outstanding athlete, Wilson competed with both the Tech indoor and outdoor track teams, concentrating as a jumper, earning All-America honors as a junior. In the classroom, he was a History major who twice was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
Wilson attended George Washington High School in Danville, Virginia, where he set school records with 2,291 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior.
He was born on June 15, 1991.