Giants and Patriots similar in the way they were built

When Dallas played Pittsburgh in Super Bowl X, 86 of the 87 players who were eligible to participate had never played on another team. All 43 Steelers were original Steelers. Of the 44 players on the Cowboys' roster, only Preston Pearson had played for another team (Pearson, in fact, was one of three Cowboys on that team that had never played a down of football in college; the others were Ron Howard and Percy Howard, who scored a touchdown in Super Bowl X).

Of course, things have changed an awful lot since then, thanks to the advent of free agency. It's why some people give the Patriots more credit as a dynasty than a team like the Steelers of the '70s, because teams in this decade are built so differently.

The front offices of the Patriots and Giants have done a terrific job of assembling the players who will take the field in Super Bowl XLII. How did they do it? Let's take a look.

Before we do, however, here's an interesting note about Giants tight end Michael Matthews as it relates to this topic. Matthews went undrafted last spring, and the two teams that expressed interest in signing him entering training camp were -- you guessed it -- the Giants and Patriots. Both teams offered the Georgia Tech product $7,500 to sign. Matthews sided with the Giants, figuring he might have a better chance to make their roster. Sure enough, he made it from the start and has been the No. 2 tight end since Jeremy Shockey went down.

How they were built

Interestingly, the Giants and Patriots have a very similar makeup when you break down the roster into players who were originally drafted by the team and players who were acquired via free agency or trade:

First-round picks: While the Patriots are considered to be a team built on shrewd lower-round draft picks and the signing of less-expensive free agents, they actually have more than twice as many first-round picks on their roster than the Giants.

New England has 11 first-round picks -- seven originally drafted by the Patriots and four who came from other teams. The seven originals: Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour, Brandon Meriweather, Ben Watson, Logan Mankins, and Laurence Maroney. The four who came later: Kyle Brady, Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, and Junior Seau.

New York has four first-rounders -- two of their own and two who came from elsewhere. The originals: Eli Manning and Aaron Ross. The other two: Plaxico Burress and R.W. McQuarters.

The Giants seem to have a good deal of success in the second round. While New England has four second-rounders on their roster, the Giants have seven -- many of them key players.

The Patriots' four second-rounders are Matt Light, Eugene Wilson, Chad Jackson, and Kevin Faulk.

The Giants' second-rounders are: Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, Corey Webster, Steve Smith, Chris Snee, Amani Toomer and Sinorice Moss.

Each team has three third-round picks on the roster.

Small-school finds

Another sign that both of these teams are very good at finding talent is that they have a number of players who came from non-Div. I-A schools.

New England has seven such players: Stephen Neal (who didn't play football at all at Cal State-Bakersfield), Matt Gutierrez (Idaho State), Lonie Paxton (Sacramento State), Ray Ventrone (Villanova), and Troy Brown, Chris Hanson and Moss (Marshall, which was Div. I-AA when he played there).

New York has eight such players: Rich Seubert (Western Illinois), Kevin Boss (Western Oregon, a Div. II school), Strahan (Texas Southern), Zak DeOssie (Brown), Tank Daniels (Harding), Jeffrey Pope (Howard), Dave Tollefson (N.W. Missouri State), and Kevin Boothe (Cornell).

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