The National Football League Draft has provided the building blocks for New York Giants' Super Bowl championship teams. For instance, current players Ahmad Bradshaw (2007), Mathias Kiwanuka (2006) and Justin Tuck (2005) all were drafted by and played for Big Blue in each of the last two Super Bowls. So Giants fans understandably had high hopes for the draftees of 2011. Unfortunately, injuries have slowed the progress of most of the players selected that year. Here's a look at five potential starters from the 2011 draft class and where they stand on the eve of the new season.
Prince Amukamara (CB) -- Amukamara, last year's first-round pick out of Nebraska, missed the first few games of 2011 with a foot injury and never found his groove. Now he'll miss the start of 2012 with a high ankle sprain. With Terrell Thomas out for the season (again), the Giants were hoping to see Amukamara step in and step up at cornerback. He could be back in a couple of weeks.
Marvin Austin (DT) -- Austin missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. He could be out long-term again, this time with a bad back. He missed most of the preseason and no real timetable has been set for the return of last year's second-round selection, who missed his senior year at North Carolina for violating NCAA rules. The G-Men could use Austin on the nicked up D-line.
Jerrel Jernigan (WR) -- Jernigan, a third-round pick out of Troy, was slowed by a leg injury in training camp. It doesn't seem like it was anything serious, but Jernigan failed to impress the Giants in the preseason, especially returning punts. The team needs his speed on offense and special teams.
Tyler Sash (SS) -- Sash lost his appeal last week of a four-game, NFL-imposed suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, but he wouldn't have been ready to start the regular season anyway. An ankle injury caused him to miss the last game of the preseason. Sash now will have rehab and stay in shape on his own, as he is banned from the team's facilitied during his suspension.
Jacquian Williams (LB) -- Williams, a sixth-round steal out of South Florida, made 78 tackles in his rookie season. However, he was limited by a hip injury in camp and didn't play. Williams will start the season backing up Michael Boley on the weak side. After sitting out, will he be ready or rusty?
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.
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