As the 2012 National Football League Draft approaches, we are reminded that teams build through the draft. And the teams that do it right win championships.
Largely as a result of wise first-round draft choices the last few years, the New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI. Of course, the Giants traded their 2004 first-round pick, Philip Rivers, for two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, who originally was drafted No. 1 overall by the San Diego Chargers. Here are a few other first-rounders who played prominant rolls on Big Blue's most recent championship team.
Kenny Phillips (DB) -- Phillps, the last first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, bolstered a banged up secondary this season. The former Miami Hurricane played in 15 regular season games and was reliable in the playoffs. Phillips had six tackles and two passes defended in Super Bowl XLVI.
Mathias Kiwanuka (LB) -- The Giants plucked Kiwanuka out of Boston College at the end of the first round in 2006. Aside from last season, he won a championship with the G-Men in 2007. Kiwanuka has been invaluable over the last few years as a pass-rushing, run-stopping linebacker and defensive end.
Aaron Ross (DB) -- Drafted out of Texas with the 20th overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, Ross has given the Giants four solid seasons. Last year, he stepped up in the absence of Terrell Thomas, who went down with a season-ending injury in the preseason. Ross had a career-high four interceptions in 2011.
Hakeem Nicks (WR) -- The Giants drafted Nicks out of North Carolina in 2009 at No. 29 overall. The big-play receiver was a key part of the Big Blue's 2012 playoff run. He caught a pair of touchdowns in each of the team's first two playoff games and finished the 2012 postseason with 28 catches for 444 yards.
Jason Pierre-Paul (DE) -- Pierre-Paul, the 15th overall pick out of South Florida in 2011, was one of the NFL's most destructive defenses forces last season. If not for him, the Giants may not have even made the playoffs. Pierre-Paul, who was named a First-Team All-Pro, had a combined 34 tackles with six sacks in the team's last four games of the regular season, as the G-Men won the NFC East title.
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. Follow Adam on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
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- Mathias Kiwanuka
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- Kenny Phillips