Ryan Connelly-Drafted by Giants

University of Wisconsin inside linebacker Ryan Connelly, right, tackles Northwestern wide receiver Riley Lees during the first half of last season's loss to the Wildcats in Evanston, Ill.

Not many would have predicted inside linebacker Ryan Connelly to be the University of Wisconsin's second player off the board in this week's NFL Draft.

The New York Giants made that happen Saturday afternoon, though, selecting the former walk-on with the fifth pick of the fifth round (143rd overall).

Among former UW players, only offensive lineman Michael Deiter, who the Dolphins took in the third round Friday night, went before Connelly.

The Butkus Award semifinalist recorded a career-high 89 tackles in just 12 games last season despite playing through a core injury the entire year.

"There were a couple times where I didn't feel as explosive or necessarily as fast with top-end speed (last season)," Connelly said. "I don't think it really affected me in the box necessarily. Obviously, I probably didn't have the same strength as I normally would. ... But for the most part I feel like I was still able to have a successful year."

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Connelly's NFL Combine numbers in February, while still impressive, were perhaps slower than his best as he built up his strength after undergoing surgery in December.

He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds, recorded a 34.5-inch vertical jump and finished the three-cone drill in 7.09 seconds.

The Gaints remained impressed with Connelly's body of work and continued their run of defensive players by selecting him.

After picking Duke quarterback Daniel Jones sixth overall, New York took four straight defensive players before deciding on Connelly early in Round 5.


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