And on the third day, the Giants drafted a linebacker.
Phillip Dillard, a 6-footer who played for Nebraska, was selected in the fourth round and will immediately be thrown into the mix at middle linebacker for the Giants. Why did the Giants wait so long? Director of college scouting Marc Ross suggested on Friday night that the dropoff behind Rolando McClain was very steep and the Giants didn’t think they could find value in the first three rounds.
Dillard began the 2009 season on the bench for the Cornhuskers. After a season-ending injury in 2008 he added weight due to inactivity and was not even in uniform for the first two games of 2009. Finally he dressed and became a leader on defense playing behind the vaunted defensive line of Nebraska that was anchored by Ndomukong Suh.
“I think what I went through was the best thing for me, and not knowing if I was going to play again was the best thing for me,” he said. “Even if you are humble, it’s even a more humbling experience, and you’re more grateful and more appreciative of the time you get on the field with your teammates. When I got the chance to be out there, I didn’t want to let them down.”
Dillard played 2009 at the weakside linebacker after losing the middle linebacker job in the base defense to Will Compton, but he was playing the middle in the sub packages, which is what Nebraska spent most of their time in. He had 83 tackles, which was two behind the team lead despite missing those two early games. He also had three sacks.