New York Giants: Will Prince Amukamara Emerge as a Star on Defense in 2012?

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IAugust 9, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Prince Amukamara, #19 overall pick by the New York Giants, holds up a jersey on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

When the New York Giants drafted defensive back Prince Amukamara with their first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, a lot of expectations were put on him.

The Giants at the time already had Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross as the main corners, but Giants GM Jerry Reese couldn't pass up on the chance to draft the corner out of Nebraska.

The start to Amukamara's rookie season didn't get off to the start he and the Giants were hoping for, as he broke his foot shortly after agreeing to his rookie contract, which sidelined him until November.

Amukamara's injury wasn't as devastating until Thomas tore his ACL in the preseason game against the Chicago Bears, forcing him out for the entire 2011 campaign.

In a span of a few weeks, the Giants secondary had been depleted. Amukamara was able to return and make his debut for the Giants on November 20 in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

On the very first series, Amukamara picked off a Vince Young pass, showing everyone why he was made a first-round pick by the Giants.

There were moments during the 2011 season where the nearly three-month recovery put Amukamara behind in his progress, because he looked off and confused, which lead to Ross playing more.

Now in 2012, Ross has departed to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Thomas is again recovering from a knee injury, but not as serious as the torn ACL he suffered last summer.

This is Amukamara's chance to step up now for the Giants.

When the 2012 season kicks off on September, Amukamara will likely be the starter as Thomas recovers and tries to get back onto the field for the Giants.

Now that Amukamara has had a chance to have summer workouts and a training camp, he'll have better preparation and an understanding of the Giants defense and what to expect in now his second year.

Plus, he'll get to play in four preseason games to really get his feet wet and settle in as a potential starter, starting on Friday night when the Giants play the Jaguars.

In 2011, Jason Pierre-Paul emerged onto the NFL scene as a superstar for the Giants and transformed their defense into what it once was when Michael Strahan was terrorizing offensive lineman.

In 2007, Justin Tuck got a chance to become a star for the Giants due to Strahan holding out in the summer, and the Giants got to see just how good Tuck really was, which led to the Giants rotating pass rush that created havoc.

So now with Thomas on the sidelines, can Amukamara be the next youngster to step up and become a star on the Giants defense?

As is, the Giants have a good defense with a great pass-rush.

Some say the secondary is the weak point of it, but if Amukamara can live up to being a first-round pick for the Giants, then he makes a good defense an even better one.

We'll all find out soon enough if Amukamara can follow in the footsteps of Tuck and JPP.

Stay tuned, Giants fans.