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2024 NFL Draft

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GM Joe Schoen keeps plans 'close to the vest' in buildup to draft


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Schoen believes he has the 2024 NFL Draft figured out. Not all 257 selections. But he knows who's going first. And as the Giants' general manager, he has a conviction about what they will do.

The initial prediction he's willing to go public with. The second, not so much.

"We all know (USC quarterback) Caleb Williams is going number one (to the Chicago Bears), that's pretty much a done deal," Schoen said this week. "Feel good about that."

The Giants will pick sixth in the first round Thursday night. Unless they don't, which would happen if they trade up or back. Schoen is not letting his intentions leak outside the team's draft room at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

"There's going to be a lot of smoke this week: 'This is the Giants' guy and this is who they're taking,'" Schoen said. "And nobody knows because there's one person that does and I'm keeping things pretty close to the vest in terms of what we're going to do. The more people that know what's going on, you maybe put them in a predicament you don't want to put them in where they know the information, it gets out and then you're looking at them sideways. So, try to keep as much information in house and that'll continue through Thursday in terms of when I get a feel for what's going to happen around us."

Schoen is charged with improving a Giants team that finished 6-11 in 2023. He has added 15 veteran players this offseason and the draft presents another opportunity to continue to reshape the roster. Schoen conceded the team has several positions to upgrade when he said "we're not one player away, or two" at his news conference last week. The draft is a key component in the never-ending quest to improve the team.

"You feel the weight of the expectations no matter what time of year it is," Schoen said. "Early in August, you feel the expectations. It's what keeps you up at night, it's what motivates you every morning. Obviously, we want to get this thing going and heading in the right direction. When you're picking this high, or even last year when we were at 25, there's always been expectations that you want to improve the football team and bring in as many good football players as you can, so you see the results on Sundays."

View Daniel Jeremiah best remaining prospects from his original top 150 ranking in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Giants currently own one selection in each of the first six rounds of the seven-round draft. In addition to No. 6, they hold the 47th, 70th, 107th, 166th and 183rd picks. The Giants sent their seventh-round choice to the Arizona Cardinals last year for linebacker Isaiah Simmons. They traded their second-round choice (No. 39) to Carolina earlier this offseason in the deal that delivered premier pass rusher Brian Burns. That deal also included a swap of fifth-round selections, with the Giants sending No. 141 to the Panthers and receiving No. 166. The Giants acquired No. 47 when they traded Leonard Williams to Seattle in October.

It's anyone's guess what will happen with the rest of the top five selections after the Bears – presumably – take Williams. Predictions get even harder further down in the round.

Schoen has worked hard to drop no clues, which of course hasn't prevented media, draft gurus and fans from voicing their own expectations.

That ever-growing group of, um, experts has apparently settled on four potential options for the Giants: a) stay at No. 6 and select a wide receiver such as Marvin Harrison, Jr., Malik Nabers, or Rome Odunze; b) stay at No. 6 and take a quarterback, perhaps Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy; c) trade up for a quarterback, a deal that would likely cost them their 2025 first-round choice, and d) trade back and acquire more picks that can be used to address more needs than they can with just six selections.

"You're going through all the possible scenarios, whether it's moving up, staying where we are, or moving back," Schoen said. "There's a lot of strategy that's going into it right now."

Schoen has been checking in with general managers around the league to gauge the potential trade options.

"(The discussions) will pick up as we get closer to Thursday, I think," he said. "I told all those people, 'Nothing's really going to happen before Thursday, so call back.' We'll have conversations early in the day on, 'Hey, if we did do something, what would it look like?' And typically, you have a few deals in place before the draft starts. That way, when you're on the clock, everything's been negotiated."

Schoen consummated trades in each of his first two Giants drafts. In the second round in 2022, he traded twice within a matter of minutes to acquire two extra choices, one in the fourth round and another in the fifth.

In the first round last year, he moved up one spot to No. 24 to select cornerback Deonte Banks. The Giants needed a corner and Mississippi State's Emmanuel Forbes and Oregon's Christian Gonzalez went 16-17 to Washington and New England, respectively. Schoen proactively secured Banks.

"I believe he'd have been the first corner taken in this draft," Schoen said, "but it was a deeper corner draft last year."

This year, the Giants gave more players first-round grades than they did in the last draft.

"We've got 15 players in the first round," Schoen said. "Last year, we had 11. Every year it's different based on what you're given. You don't put them there just for posterity or just a visual for window dressing. These are guys that we think deserve first-round grades. If they're not up there, you put them in the second. You put them where their grade is. We don't put 32 guys up there to have 32 guys in the first round.

"I think each year the ebbs and flows of where the depth of the draft is and where you can acquire players, it shifts based on different variables."

Schoen will be gathering intel right up to the moment the Giants draft their first player, whether it's sixth or elsewhere.

"I'm going to make a lot of phone calls on Thursday," he said. "Hopefully, some information will start to trickle out in terms of what's going to happen in front of us so we can continue to headcount who may be there at six, or what we may be doing, if we're going to move up, back, or stay where we are. So just try to gather as much information as I can, again, talk to the other general managers around the league. If anybody wants to come up to six, get those agreements in place. Things will happen fast once you're on the clock, so you've got to be ready."

Check out photos of the city of Detroit as it prepares to host this weekend's NFL Draft.


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