FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2011 file photo, East...

FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2011 file photo, East defensive tackle Marvin Austin (99), of North Carolina, stands at the line of scrimmage during the East-West Shrine Game NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla. Credit: AP

The Giants' draft needs were easily identifiable, with little debate that offensive line and outside linebacker were 1-2 in the pecking order. Running back wasn't far behind, and then tight end.

Two areas of strength were the defensive line, where the Giants are among the best in the NFL, and the secondary, where they were vastly improved last year after a miserable 2009 season.

So what does Jerry Reese do early in the draft? He selects a cornerback in the first round and a defensive tackle in the second. Oh, and that deep receiving corps the Giants have? It just got deeper with the drafting of Troy State's Jerrel Jernigan in the third round.

Those counterintuitive decisions by fifth-year general manager Reese point to the Giants' traditional draft-day position of making moves based more on the quality of players they select, not the positions those prospects play.

Unlike many teams that drafted for need, the Giants drafted for value. And in the end, that philosophy will serve an NFL franchise far better than plugging holes in ad hoc fashion.

"It's the way it happens sometimes," coach Tom Coughlin said Friday night after the Giants took North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who was suspended for the entire 2010 season for taking illegal gifts from an agent. "True to form, we're not going to reach and we're not going to leave a value to go somewhere else. There's more draft to go.''

So the Giants didn't get to the offensive line early in the draft, even though there are needs with guard Rich Seubert and center Shaun O'Hara coming off surgeries. They didn't add an offensive tackle to hedge against age and injury at the position. They didn't get an outside linebacker to challenge underachieving Clint Sintim.

Nor did they get running back Mark Ingram, the Alabama star and son of former Giants wide receiver Mark Ingram. With Brandon Jacobs losing his job as a starter last season and with Ahmad Bradshaw enjoying a career year but also coming off more nicks and bruises and some big-time contract dreams, the time might have been right to get Ingram, who fell to the bottom of the first round and was taken by the Saints.

Nope. Instead, they took Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, who will join established starters Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas. Why Amukamara? Because the value was unquestionable for the 6-foot, 200-pound corner, the second-best prospect at his position behind LSU's Patrick Peterson. Reese took talent over need when Amukamara slipped to 19.

Same deal in the second round. The Giants went with the controversial Austin, who was dismissed from the Tar Heels after he took improper gifts from agent Gary Wichard, who has since died. But Reese has gambled and won before; last year, he took inexperienced defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round after he played just one college season. He enjoyed a solid rookie season and looks as if he can develop into a big-time pass-rusher. And Reese got Bradshaw in the seventh round of the 2007 draft despite the running back's dismissal from the Virginia football team in 2004 after pleading guilty to underage drinking and resisting arrest. He also was arrested for petty larceny after stealing a fellow student's PlayStation from a dorm room.

Reese also went against the grain in the third round by taking Jernigan.

The needs at other positions went unfilled in the highest part of the draft, further proof that Reese's belief that selecting for need is not the best course of action. Selecting the best players, regardless of position, is the better alternative.