Covering all the bases
Giants trade up to grab much-needed cornerback
Updated: Saturday April 21, 2001 10:11 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Saying there are never enough good cornerbacks, the NFC champion New York Giants drafted two on Saturday after making trades in the first and second rounds.
The Giants traded up in the first round and took Will Allen of Syracuse and then traded down in the second and grabbed Will Peterson, a Western Illinois product who was kicked off Michigan's team late in the 1998 season.
Allen was one of two can't miss cornerbacks in the draft, although general manager Ernie Accorsi said that the Giants think Peterson is a first-round talent.
The Giants gave the Indianapolis Colts their first-round pick (30th overall) plus their third and sixth-round draft choices for the right to jump eight places and take the speedy Allen with the 22nd pick overall.
When it came time for the Giants to make the next-to-last pick in the second round, they traded it to Detroit for a third-round pick and a fourth rounder.
"It was pick Peterson or make the trade," Accorsi said, who made the deal and still got Peterson with the Lions' third-round pick.
Allen and Nate Clements of Ohio State were the only cornerbacks that the Giants considered taking in the first round, Accorsi said.
Clements was the first to go, being taken by the Buffalo Bills with the 21st pick overall.
With Indianapolis drafting next, the Giants and Colts agreed to finalize a trade they had discussed in the past 10 days.
"We were concerned about what we were going to be able to pick," Accorsi said. "He [Allen] was a very highly rated player in a position of need. We just couldn't afford to wait. You have to have cover corners. People are playing too many receivers."
Besides being smart, athletic and a hard worker, Giants player personnel director Marv Sunderland said Allen has the type of speed that's hard to find.
"He's an in-your-face, physical-type corner," coach Jim Fassel added. "He'll come up and hit you and tackle you. He's done kickoff returns, which shows you his toughness and ability, a solid person without issues. He is from New York. He's a merit guy with a kid. He's what we are looking for."
It is expected that Allen will compete for left cornerback job with returning starter Dave Thomas, who will turn 33 in August.
"Whenever you get drafted in the first round you have to expect that those guys want you to play," Allen said by phone from his home in Syracuse, N.Y. "They won't be paying you money like that to sit on the bench.
"I mean you have to come in here expecting to do something, whether it be nickel back, special teams, starter or whatever."
Allen moved into the starting lineup for the Orangemen as a sophomore, starting 28 in his last three seasons. He had 142 career tackles, four interceptions and 39 passes defended. He also averaged 22.7 yards on kickoff returns.
Peterson left Western Illinois after one season to enter the draft. A somewhat cocky big hitter, he had five interceptions, 46 tackles and 12 passes defended this past season.
However, the concern about him relates to his final season at Michigan in 1998, his sophomore year.
Peterson was dismissed from the team after allegedly stealing $46 from a stripper's purse in December, 1998. He was charged four months later with possession of marijuana.
Peterson pleaded guilty to the possession charge and received a year's probation and drug counseling. The charge was later dropped and removed from his record. The theft charge was dismissed, Peterson said in a telephone interview.
"I look at it as making bad decisions," said Peterson, who said he doesn't have a criminal record.
Fassel considers the incidents over.
"Some issues with some guys can be immaturity and bad judgment at the time," said Fassel, adding the team doesn't feel Peterson is going to cause any problems.
If the left cornerback job is open, Peterson thinks he has as good a chance of starting as Allen.
"I'm surprised I went as low as I did," Peterson said. "I have just as much talent as any corner in the draft."
The first-round deal was the first one the Giants made to move up.
The last time the Giants traded their first-round pick was in 1975. They acquired quarterback Craig Morton from Dallas for the second pick overall.
The Cowboys used the selection to take Hall of Fame defensive tackle Randy White.
The Colts used the 30th pick that they got from the Giants on Saturday to take receiver Reggie Wayne of Miami.
New York also acquired a first-round pick (OT William Roberts) from Washington in 1984, but the Giants didn't have to give up their first-round pick to get it.
The Giants also announced that defensive tackle Christian Peter, who started much of the past two seasons, had signed with Indianapolis as a free agent.