Tuesday’s press conference with GM Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams was intended to address the Giants’ free agency actions, not their NFL Draft plans. But some draft nuggets still spilled out.
So until Gettleman and college scouting director Chris Pettit hold their pre-draft presser on Thursday, here are some hints to hold Giants nation over:
The Giants’ big swing and miss on Rams edge Leonard Floyd at the start of free agency was proof that the organization is prioritizing a pass rusher this spring. So it was already no secret the Giants would draft one, perhaps even with their No. 11 overall pick in the first round April 29.
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But Gettleman poured gasoline on that fire when discussing the returns of Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines from injury. “I wish that Lorenzo and X had been able to play the whole season last year but they couldn’t,” Gettleman said. “So we filled in with some guys and did the best we could. And ya know, we’re gonna do better.”
The Giants haven’t done better yet, other than the addition of OLB Ryan Anderson, whom Gettleman didn’t even name. So the odds are heavily in favor of them taking a pass rusher in either Round 1 or 2. At No. 11, that could mean a player like Penn State LB Micah Parsons, Miami DE Jaelan Phillips or Michigan DE Kwity Paye. At No. 42 in Round 2, it could mean a player like Miami DE Gregory Rousseau or Washington edge Joe Tryon.
“Lorenzo and X-Man are rehabbing,” Gettleman added. “They’re coming along well. You feel good about those two guys. Cam Brown is gonna get better. Carter Coughlin’s gonna be better. You’re growing them up, and you’re looking at the draft as well. You’re always looking to get better. You can never have too many good players at one position.”
The Giants don’t have enough good players at this position. They’ll address it next week.
There have been rumors or reports the past few days about the Falcons, Dolphins, Lions, Panthers, Broncos, Giants and Eagles all possibly being interested in trading out of their picks that range from No. 4 overall to No. 12. That’s because teams convened last week for their final pre-draft meetings to assemble their board, and now GMs are testing the market for trades and value depending on how they believe the board will fall.
The Daily News wrote a week ago that trading back from No. 11 is a real option for the Giants this year, even though Gettleman has never traded back in any round of his previous eight NFL drafts. Then on Tuesday, less than an hour before Gettleman’s press conference, there was a report on NFL Network that the Giants were “internally considering” a trade back.
If the Giants were hoping to drum up Gettleman quotes about trading their pick on Tuesday, they didn’t succeed, since the GM will not be asked directly about the draft until Thursday. But the bottom line is this is a distinct possibility, especially because the Giants only have six picks, which is tied for the second-fewest in this draft.
When Gettleman was asked about how he’s helping Daniel Jones this offseason, he gave a nod to the offensive side of the ball, saying: “I’ve always believed that when you draft the guy you feel is gonna be your franchise quarterback, the first thing you gotta do is get people around him and keep him upright, then you gotta get him playmakers.”
This explained the Giants’ huge contract for wide receiver Kenny Golladay and could indicate a lean toward more weapons in the draft.
However, Gettleman also said to pay attention to moves “on the offensive side and the defensive side … because I’ve said to you folks before: offense scores points, defense wins championships. Every move you make is obviously to help each side of the ball … and special teams are critical, as well. Everything is made with the full broad view of how we’re gonna put the finishing touches on this and make it right.”
This is reinforcement that for the Giants to improve, they need better players on both sides of the ball, so their focus on helping Jones develop in Year 3 doesn’t guarantee their top pick will be an offensive player.
Abrams said all the Giants’ free agency decisions in March “incorporate what the early view of our draft board looks like and understand where our needs and fits are in free agency that also aren’t redundant where the draft is strong, and vice versa. Where the draft is weak, that might be a difference-maker when deciding between who to approach in free agency.”
But of course the Giants can’t exactly say they stuck to this thought process in free agency. They heavily pursued Floyd in free agency initially, which made sense given that the draft’s pass rushing class is not considered elite, while the receiver class looks deep. But they struck out on Floyd and ended up paying enormous money for Golladay during a year where there are a ton of talented receivers available in the draft.
They also threw a ton of money at corner Adoree Jackson even though there are some intriguing corner prospects at the top of the draft.
Gettleman explained that the Giants’ football operations room has two color coded boards, one for free agency and one for the draft. And in March, what the Giants did was “marry up both and then make decisions on which way we’re gonna go.”
Obviously, though, they had to pivot off their initial plan and still spend big money at positions that are considered strong in this draft class. It remains to be seen, then, if the Giants’ free agency expenditures on a receiver and a corner tilts them even harder toward a pass rusher or linebacker, where they did not spend or upgrade yet.
It certainly makes sense, especially since Gettleman has ignored the pass rusher position at the top of all three of his Giants drafts, going offense all three years with RB Saquon Barkley at No. 2, Jones at No. 6 and OT Andrew Thomas at No. 4, respectively.