EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jerry Reese looked like a hockey player in the middle of the playoffs discussing the New York Giants' draft plans.
The second-year general manager was showing the stubbly signs of an early beard and the worn look of having played a game the night before.
It was the clear sign of catch-up football, from a GM's point of view.
The Super Bowl champion Giants didn't end the season until early February, and Reese and company have been going full tilt. Free agency dominated the final three weeks of February, and the last six weeks have been focused on preparing for the 31st and final pick of the first round of the NFL draft Saturday.
Safety Gibril Wilson was signed by Oakland as a free agent; weakside linebacker Kawika Mitchell went to Buffalo; and Reggie Torbor, who filled in for the injured Mathias Kiwanuka (broken leg) at strongside linebacker, was signed by Miami.
Michael Strahan also is considering retirement for the second straight year, so add defensive end to the need list no matter what the seven-time Pro Bowler decides.
There's one other problem for Reese. He's now in a no-win situation since performing a virtual miracle in his first year after replacing Ernie Accorsi.
"This league is what have you done for me lately?" Reese said. "All we have to do is go out there and lose a couple of games and we will all be dumb and the coach will be dumb and I will be dumb and the quarterback will be a bust."
Drafting late, it's going to be hard to match last season's success unless Reese can perform a little more magic.
One way might be to engineer a trade to either move up or to add extra picks in the second round by moving down. New York has always done well in the round, taking Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Toomer and Tiki Barber.
The bait this year is Shockey. After missing out on the Super Bowl run, he has complained about his role with the team.
However, he also noted last week that he has not made telephone calls to shop Shockey.
"Right now all I can say on Jeremy Shockey is that he is our starting tight end," Reese said. "There is always a lot of chatter going on during this time of the year."
Reese has a simple approach to the draft. He looks for value and need.
"Anything can happen on draft day," Reese said. "Don't be surprised by anything on draft day ... I learned that a long time ago."
The most talked-about scenario has the Giants taking a safety. Tyrell Johnson of little Arkansas State appears to be the front-runner. He was the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the year and finished his career with 363 tackles and 13 interceptions.
Kenny Phillips of Miami is a close second. He is a big hitter had a career-best 82 tackles this season, including 57 supporting running plays.
Ross and Corey Webster played very well as the starting cornerbacks, but there is concern after that. Sam Madison is 34, and Kevin Dockery has been injury prone.
Jackson has been productive at the highest level, with 30 ½ career sacks. Laws was switched from defensive tackle to end in Notre Dame's new 3-4 system and he made 112 tackles this past season. He also can play two positions, another plus.
The Giants don't have many needs on offense, but don't be surprised if they take a lineman. They have been have looking for another tackle.
"You can always improve your team," Reese said. "You can always create some competition and we like to do that. We try to create competition at every position and that is what you have to do. You create competition and let the best guy win the position moving forward. Nobody is safe; everybody has a job to win."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press