Giants take BC’s Williams with 4th-round pick
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants selected Boston College running back Andre Williams and San Diego State safety Nat Berhe on the final day of the NFL draft on Saturday.
Williams led the nation in rushing, carrying the ball 355 times for a school-record 2,177 yards — 6.1 yards per carry — and 18 touchdowns. He won the Doak Walker award, given to the nation’s top running back, and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
“We came in and had Andre Williams in a good spot,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “We had him going in the second round. Some guys had first round grades on him. We had this young man graded very high and we were fortunate to get him. He came at the right spot and fell to us.”
Berhe had 94 tackles last season for the Aztecs. He was the first San Diego State defensive back since 1999 to earn All-Mountain West honors three consecutive years.
The 6-foot-0, 227-pound Williams rushed for 267 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Army last October. He had three consecutive memorable games in November, tallying 295 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns in a win over New Mexico State, 339 yards on 42 carries and two touchdowns in a victory against North Carolina State and 263 yards on 32 carries and two TDs in a win over Maryland.
A native of Pennsylvania, Williams played all four years at Boston College. However, the durable Williams caught only 10 passes during his career and failed to register a single reception in 13 games in 2013.
But Scouts were impressed with his size and strength, plus decent speed and an extra gear when breaking into the open.
Williams rushed for 3,574 career yards, the most in school history, and 11th-best in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Berhe had 60 solo stops and two fumble recoveries. While he didn’t have an interception as a senior, he had five over the previous three years.
Berhe is a solid pursuit player who can play both the free safety and strong safety slots. He’ll get a chance to compete for playing time because starting free safety Will Hill is facing a possible third suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
“I try to be the biggest and baddest thing out there,” Berhe said. “It’s how I play. I play with a lot of emotion and I hit everything.”
However, there were questions about 5-foot-10, 200-pound Berhe’s size and whether he could handle the rigors of being full-time safety because of his frame.
“He’s a tackling machine,” Giants general manager Jerry Reese. “He’s just a football player who is all over the place.”
With their second pick in the fifth round, the Giants selected outside linebacker Devon Kennard of USC and ended their draft by taking cornerback Bennett Jackson of Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Kennard played defensive end, middle linebacker and outside linebacker during his playing days at USC.
Last season, Kennard started all 14 games at outside linebacker and led the Trojans with nine sacks. He has overcome surgery for a torn pectoral muscle and torn hip cartilage in 2011 and 2010, but has remained healthy ever since. He also had knee surgery in high school. His father, Derek, was an 11-year NFL veteran offensive lineman who played with the Saints, Cardinals and Cowboys.
Kennard also fits the mold of other players the Giants drafted: He’s a good student who was a team captain in college. Five of their seven draft picks were captains.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Jackson was recruited as a wide receiver out of Raritan High School in central New Jersey. He was moved to defensive back as a sophomore and flourished over the last two seasons, collecting six interceptions. He was tops among Notre Dame defensive backs with 59 tackles.
The Giants did not own a seventh round selection, trading it to Carolina last year for linebacker Jon Beason.
“I expect all of the rookies to come in and contribute right away,” Coughlin said. “They have a maturity level already with most of them being captains and leaders. We will have a group that is a little bit ahead of the rest.”