EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants are going big in the draft.
A day after taking offensive tackle Justin Pugh in the first round, the Giants put pounds on their disappointing defensive line by selecting run-stopping Ohio State tackle Johnathan Hankins in the second round and pass-rushing end Damontre Moore of Texas A&M in the third.
It’s a clear sign the Giants are intent on returning to old-time smash-mouth football, where games are won in the trenches, running the football, stopping the run and getting after the opposing quarterback.
“A lot of big guys went early and in the league you’ve got to have big guys to win,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “If you don’t have big guys, it’s hard to win in this league.”
Coach Tom Coughlin also knows that winning in the NFC East comes from stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback. The Giants didn’t do that consistently against Dallas, Philadelphia and division champion Washington, which was led by the mobile Robert Griffin III.
“That is where it starts _ up front,” Coughlin said. “You have to continue to develop and build. Be strong up there _ competitive. We have good players here. We have just added some players to the mix and hopefully the competition will make our team better.”
The draft will wrap up Saturday with four more rounds. The Giants, who still need help at linebacker, running back and safety, have five more picks, including the penultimate selection.
Like Pugh, Hankins and Moore both entered the draft after their junior seasons. All three fill immediate needs.
Pugh starts the rebuilding of an aging offensive line. Hankins and Moore will provide immediate help for a defense that was ranked 31st overall last season, giving up an average of 129.1 yards rushing and 383.4 overall.
Hankins, 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds, was an every-down player for the Buckeyes this past season, starting all 12 games. He finished with 55 tackles and a sack.
There were some concerns about his stamina heading into the draft, but the Giants noted he played almost every down this past season, so running out of gas wasn’t a surprise.
Marc Ross, the team’s director of college scouting, said Hankins is a bit of a rarity with his combination of size and mobility.
“The way I am at 325 pounds, you don’t see too many big guys run from side to side, making plays,” Hankins said in a telephone interview from his home near Detroit. “I feel like I am probably one of the best. I am going to keep working hard and continue to be good.”
If there is a perceived weakness, it’s his pass-rushing ability. He had five sacks in three seasons, with three coming in 2011.
“I can rush the passer,” Hankins said. “One of my strong points is I can stop the run. I am working on my pass rush, the techniques. I am working on getting that a lot better so I can be a complete D-tackle.”
Ross felt Hankins was a first-round talent.
“The pass rush isn’t his strength,” Ross said. “Right now he is a two-down run stopper and we’ll develop his pass rush.”
The Giants don’t have to worry about Moore’s pass-rushing ability. He had 12 sacks this past season and 26 in three seasons at A&M. He also had 21 tackles for losses. He also is only 20.
“The guy’s production is off the charts compared to guys taken ahead of him,” Ross said.
Moore, who can play a down end or as a stand-up rushing linebacker, was expected to go much higher in the draft. However, he had off-the-field problems with marijuana and his 40-yard time and weight-lifting level at the NFL Combine were disappointing.
“He does play faster than the time you are probably going to refer back to,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “But his quickness and his shuttles were outstanding. So from me to you, he is as quick as it is.”
Reese didn’t care about the times.
“You can’t pass guys with that kind of sack production,” he said.
Moore has gained 10 pounds since the combine, and Ross expects him to be another five-to-10 pounds heavier when the season starts. He also needs to grow up a little and learn to practice as hard as he plays, the Giants said.
The Giants have seen a lot of movement on their defense since they missed the playoffs last season. Tackle Chris Canty and linebacker Michael Boley were released and safety Kenny Phillips and middle linebacker Chase Blackburn signed with other teams as free agent. Former Eagles tackles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, cornerback Aaron Ross and linebacker Conner were signed as free agents.
New York started rebuilding its aging offensive line in the first round. The versatile Pugh, who can play every position on the line, is expected to challenge David Diehl for the starting job at right tackle.