Giants first-round pick Hakeem Nicks grabs comparison to Michael Irvin New York Daily News Ralph Vacchiano "There was already enough pressure on Hakeem Nicks, from the moment he was drafted by a team desperate for a No. 1 receiver to fill Plaxico Burress' shoes. The Giants even turned up the heat when they compared their first-rounder to Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin. But Butch Davis, Nicks' coach at North Carolina, went even further, comparing him to Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. And if that's a lot for a 21-year-old receiver to deal with as a rookie . . . well, the real Irvin says, that's just tough. "Pressure is good at this stage," Irvin told the Daily News last week. "You want a guy to feel like, 'I have to live up to him,' as opposed to 'I'm just me. Let me be me.' You want to live up to something, to standards that have been set . . . something where he says, 'I want to be this,' or 'I want to do that.' You want a guy to feel pressure to be great all the time." By all accounts, Nicks does, which is why Davis - who was on the Dallas Cowboys staff from 1989-94 when Irvin was in his prime - wasn't afraid to make that comparison. He even said the 6-1, 210-pound Nicks has "as good a set of hands catching the ball as anybody I've ever been around." And he's been around receivers such as Irvin, Andre Johnson, Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne. But the best part about Nicks isn't his hands, his production or his ability to make the tough catch. It's another Irvin-like trait - the ability to star in the big game. "The thing that I liked about him is the bigger the game, it seemed like the better that he plays," Davis said. "The game he had in the bowl game, he was so geeked about wanting to play well. He knew it was a national audience. And how could you have played any better than he did in that game?" "The bigger the game, the bigger the stage, the bigger the performance," added North Carolina receivers coach Charlie Williams. "He thrives in the spotlight." Nicks had eight catches, 217 yards and three touchdowns in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in December, including a spectacular, one-handed, behind-the-back catch that became a YouTube sensation. It was probably the most notable performance for a player who caught 142 passes for 2,180 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons. But to his coaches, it wasn't necessarily his best."