NFL Draft: Weston Richburg

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The fast and furious action in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft Friday night didn't leave us much time to delve into the New York Giants' second-round pick, but Weston Richburg is worth some Saturday morning delving. So let's delve, shall we?

Richburg was the 43rd pick in this year's draft, and there is little doubt he'll be expected to compete for (and likely win) the starting center's job this spring and summer. His top competition right now is free-agent addition J.D. Walton, who hasn't played since September of 2012 due to an ankle injury.

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AP Photo/G.M. Andrews"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of second-round pick Weston Richburg.
"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "The center position here for us is one of responsibility in terms of dictating to the rest of the offensive line exactly how the scheme is going to go. This guy will fit right in in terms of that."

Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese both said the center's responsibility for handling line and protection calls will increase under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross said Richburg scored an impressive 31 on the Wonderlic test and impressed the Giants in his combine interview with his intelligence. The idea that they're excited about Richburg as a potential starter says less about Walton, who himself was a not-too-shabby 80th overall pick in the 2010 draft and would have projected as the Giants' starting center if they hadn't addressed the position in the draft, than it does about Richburg himself.

The decision-makers raved about Richburg's athleticism, which apparently also will be an asset in the new McAdoo offense, and his durability. Coughlin couldn't wait to tell the story of how Richburg broke his right hand in 2012 and played the final game snapping with his left hand while his right was in a club cast.

"Yeah, that's something I take a lot of pride in," a proud Richburg said when asked about that story. "You don't see a lot of guys who can do that."

The Giants' execs pointed out that Richburg was a team captain who didn't miss any games in college. Richburg said it was important to him to be the first center taken in the draft (as he was). And in general, there's nothing not to like about the guy at this point. Even if the Giants really were comfortable with the idea of Walton as their starting center, they recognized that they needed to re-stock with top talent on the offensive line. Richburg helps them do that, and at a position where there may be an opportunity to start right away.

"Last year, we had a couple of injuries early on the offensive line and it was pretty devastating," Reese said, accurately. "We had to bring in some guys that struggled some at those positions, so we're trying to make sure we have enough depth at every position. This guy will help provide that for us."

The Giants have overhauled the interior of their offensive line, which was extinction-level bad in 2013. Left guard Kevin Boothe signed with the Raiders, right guard David Diehl retired and they released center David Baas. They signed free agent Geoff Schwartz to start at left guard, Walton for center and John Jerry for a reserve role, and they're hoping Chris Snee can make a healthy return from hip surgery at right guard. Richburg is the latest move in their effort to make sure they don't get caught short with underprepared guys at those spots if injuries happen again.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some final thoughts from Day 2 of the draft:

Standing Pat: Once known as Trader Ted, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has not made a single trade in the first two days of the draft. Said Thompson: "There were phone calls like there always are. There were offers made by us a few teams, by the opposing teams a few times and it was more 'we'll see when it gets to our pick or we'll see when it gets to their pick,' and it just never worked out."

Third-round reaches: While there should have been little to quibble with when it came to Thompson's first two picks -- safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round and receiver Davante Adams in the second -- his third-round picks appeared to be reaches based on general evaluations and even where they expected to be picked. Southern Miss defensive tackle Khyri Thornton was ranked as the 17th-best defensive tackle yet he was the ninth one taken. Said Thorton, who went 85th overall: "To be honest with you I really didn't have high expectations of going high in the draft." Cal tight end Richard Rodgers, who went to the Packers at No. 98, appears to be a bit of a project, having switched from tight end to receiver at Cal before leaving school early.

Thornton's journey: In Thornton's final two years at Southern Miss, the team won only one game -- and he missed that lone victory because of an injury. And that's only part of Thornton's collegiate story. He first committed to Florida State but did not qualify academically. Then, he enrolled at South Florida, which also denied him eligibility. "It was frustrating," the 24-year-old Thornton said. "Learned about college football."

"The Play": Rodgers' father took part in one of the most famous plays in college football history -- the five-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown at the end of the 1982 Cal-Stanford game -- and he has seen it countless times. But never in the company of his dad, who made two of the laterals. "I actually don't think I've ever watched 'The Play' with my dad sitting next to me," the younger Rodgers said.

Finley's future: Thompson insisted the decision to draft Rodgers was not an indication that team has moved on from free agent Jermichael Finley, who still hasn't been cleared to return from his neck injury. "I don't necessarily think the two are tied at all," Thompson said. "We were just trying to pick a good player."

Looking ahead: The Packers still haven't addressed two of their bigger needs entering the draft -- inside linebacker and center. Thompson watched the top center, Colorado State's Weston Richburg, come off the board nine picks before the Packers' second-round selection. In the third round, he saw Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland go eight before the Packers picked Thornton. Even with five picks in rounds 4-7 on Saturday, the chances of finding someone who could compete for a starting job at either spot are minimal.

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