- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the NFL draft's biggest surprises came right before the curtains closed at Radio City.
The New York Giants took Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the 32nd and final pick Thursday night, giving the ACC three players taken in the draft's first round.
To the surprise of no one, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was the first conference player off the board, going No. 9 to the Carolina Panthers. North Carolina end Quinton Coples followed seven picks later, going to the New York Jets at No. 16.
The reigning ACC player of the year, Wilson figures to be the Giants' replacement for Brandon Jacobs, who departed in the offseason. New York finished last in the league on the ground in 2011.
"That, but also we’re looking at the fact that Brandon [Jacobs] is no longer here and we do have to try to balance that out," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We believe that you do have to have multiple runners or at least two that can effectively take the field at any time and this young man we thought was one of those that can be a big play threat."
Wilson, who who set a school record with 1,709 rushing yards in 2011, became the Hokies' ninth first-round pick and the seventh during coach Frank Beamer's tenure. Beamer has had 83 of his former players drafted.
Kuechly became BC's 19th first-round pick, and after winning the Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award and Lott Impact Trophy, he is thought of as one of the surest things of this draft class.
Coples became the Tar Heels' 20th first-round pick and their second defensive end in two years to be taken on Day 1. Jets coach Rex Ryan served as an honorary tackle to block against Coples last month at UNC's pro day.
"They knew I could get to the quarterback and help this team get to the Super Bowl," Coples told ESPN Radio. "It's good to be a Jet. I'm just going to go out there and be the best pass-rusher I can be."
The ACC figured to have at least three players taken on Thursday, but Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill was expected to be among them. Instead, the receiver will likely be an early pick Friday. He is one of Todd McShay's top five players still on the board.
One of the NFL draft's biggest surprises came right before the curtains closed at Radio City.The New York Giants took Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the 32nd and final pick Thursday night, giving the ACC three players taken in the draft's first round.