EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The scene is repeated in the offices of every team throughout any NFL Draft. After selecting one or more players, a general manager and/or coach will appear at a news conference and tell the assembled reporters how fortunate they were to marry value and need with their newest players.
On a broader scale, that is what the Giants are looking at in the 2019 NFL Draft, a three-day affair that begins with Round 1 tomorrow night. Coming off a 5-11 season, they require a talent infusion at several positions. They should satisfy that need because they currently own 12 choices in the seven-round draft, tying them with Super Bowl champion New England for the league’s highest total, and the most they’ve had since the draft was reduced to seven rounds in 1994 (the previous high is 11 in 2003). The Giants last had 12 choices in 1992, the final year the draft was 12 rounds (it was eight rounds in 1993).
And it’s a good year for the Giants to have so many options, because according to general manager Dave Gettleman, this is one of the most talent-laden drafts he’s seen.
“We have more players rated as first, second, third or fourth-round values than I have had in any draft,” Gettleman said. “This is my (seventh) draft as a GM. In terms of the volume of players on the board, this is the thickest.
“Obviously, every position is different. There are some positions that are thick throughout. Some positions, it gets thick late. Some positions, you are thick, nothing, thick. It varies. Obviously, when your turn is coming up, you have to give it a look, especially when you have a number of guys that you can look at with equal value at different positions.”
Asked what positions are the strongest, Gettleman said, “The wides (wide receivers) are real thick. The offensive tackles are thick. The secondary is thick. Corners and safeties. When I say thick, I am talking about up and down the draft. Rounds one through seven.”
Is there a better chance this year of realizing that sometimes elusive bonding of value and need?
“Yes, because it is about volume,” Gettleman said.
In a perfect world, the Giants, barring a trade, would emerge from this draft with 12 eventual starters.
“If we get 12 starters in this draft, I would have one hell of a time on Cape Cod,” Gettleman said. “All kidding aside, having 12 picks is crazy. One of the things I have talked about is that you don’t want to draft a player that you are going to cut. Every guy you draft, there is a reason you are drafting him and a reason that he should make your club. First, second, third round draft picks at the very least, you are looking for a big rotational player.”
Also crazy, at least in terms of the Giants’ history, is that they own two first-round selections, the sixth and 17th overall. The only other year the Giants selected two players in the first round was 1984, when they chose linebacker Carl Banks third and offensive lineman William Roberts 27th. Each of them became a Pro Bowl player.
“I have never had that,” Gettleman said of owning two first-round selections. “It is fun. I am excited about it. It is weird. After you make that first pick, you can’t go get dinner. I am excited. You are going to draft two guys that you will have for five years, which is a big help with the cap nowadays. I am looking forward to it.”
Perhaps the most intriguing question is whether the Giants will emerge from the draft with a quarterback who could become Eli Manning’s eventual successor. The top players at the game’s most important position include Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones. Gettleman stressed last week that he will not try to satisfy that need if the player’s value does not warrant it when they are on the clock.
“I won’t force a pick,” Gettleman said. “You can’t draft for need. … The priority is to select the best players.”
A more immediate need is to find some stud contributors for a defense that finished 23rd in points allowed, 24th in yards allowed, and 30th in the league in sacks. The list of standout defenders includes Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Houston’s Ed Oliver.
Since the end of the 2018 season, Gettleman has consistently said the Giants must upgrade their defense.
“We went 4-4 the second half of the year and we had three games that if we make a stop, we are 7-1,” he said. “Obviously, you can’t have too many playmakers. You talk about roster construction, I have always been a big believer that if you look at the great defenses, they have a lead dog in every level. A legitimate playmaker at every level of their defense. I said it at the postseason presser and I will say it again, we need some defensive playmakers.”
Beginning tomorrow, they can get some of those and much more to improve the team.
The Giants’ 12 selections in the 2019 NFL Draft:
Round 1: Six and 17 (the latter acquired from Cleveland in the Odell Beckham, Jr. trade).
Round 2: 37
Round 3: 95 (acquired from Cleveland in the Beckham trade)
Round 4: 108, 132 (the latter acquired from New Orleans for CB Eli Apple).
Round 5: 142 (acquired from Detroit for DT Damon Harrison), 143, 171 (compensatory selection).
Round 6: 180
Round 7: 232 (acquired from Minnesota for C Brett Jones) and 245 (acquired from the Rams with linebacker Alec Ogletree).