New York’s Giants and Jets both opted for defensive players with their first-round picks in the National Football League draft.
The Giants, seeking to improve a defense that allowed the third-most points in the NFL last season, used the 15th overall pick last night on pass-rushing defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul from the University of South Florida.
“He has some freakish athletic skills that we’re excited about trying to hone,” Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said during a media conference call.
The Jets, with the 29th selection, added Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson to a defense that allowed the fewest points in the league in 2009. Wilson is a native of Piscataway, New Jersey, about a 45-minute drive from the Jets’ new stadium in East Rutherford.
“I couldn’t have dreamt it any better,” Wilson said.
Pierre-Paul and Wilson were among 18 defensive players taken yesterday in the first round of the draft. There were 14 offensive players, including University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford -- who went No. 1 overall to the St. Louis Rams.
Giants’ Pass Rushers
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Pierre-Paul joins a group of Giants pass rushers that includes Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.
Reese said last night that Umenyiora won’t be traded. Umenyiora last season was demoted to playing in pass- rushing situations and said this offseason that he wants a trade if his role doesn’t change.
“Osi and I have talked,” Reese said. “Osi knows that he is going to be here. Osi knows we are not looking to shop him. He knows he is going to be a Giant in the fall and he’s looking forward to that.”
The Giants finished 8-8 last season after a 5-0 start and allowed 40 points or more in five games. They gave up 427 points for the season, behind only a franchise-record 501 in 1966. The 26.7 points-per-game average was the third highest in the NFL, leading to the firing of defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.
As a junior at South Florida last season, Pierre-Paul made 16 1/2 of his 45 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including 6 1/2 sacks.
“This is a very, very talented young man with outstanding upside,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It gives us tremendous flexibility in terms of the number of people that we have in our pass-rush rotation.”
Wilson is the latest addition to a Jets defense that spearheaded the team’s run to the American Football Conference championship game last season.
In coach Rex Ryan’s first season, the Jets allowed 14.8 points and 252.3 yards a game, the fewest in the NFL.
The Jets last month added cornerback Antonio Cromartie to a secondary that has All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“I’m looking to learn as much as I can from them,” Wilson said from his home in Piscataway. “I don’t think it could be a better situation.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.