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Cover 3: Why Giants traded down, chose WR Toney


In this special draft edition of Cover 3, the crew reacts to the trade down before selecting Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney with the 20th pick.

John Schmeelk: The first round of the draft is in the books, and the Giants came away with an offensive weapon in Kadarius Toney, who can line up all over the formation and make plays with the ball in his hands. Expect to see him as an inside and outside receiver, a weapon on jet sweeps and other running players, in the return game, and also potentially as a passer on gadget plays.

I wrote all about Toney's impact on the field here (put in link) in Cover 3, so here I'll focus on the trade that got the Giants in the position to take him. The Giants were very aggressive in free to agency to improve the team for the 2021 season, even at the expense of salary cap flexibility in future years. Despite more of a "win now" posture earlier in the off-season, General Manager Dave Gettleman did the right thing for the organization in moving down nine spots.

For the price of moving down, the Giants received the Bears 20th and 164th (a fifth-round to replace the pick they lost in the Leonard Williams trade) picks in the 2021 draft. The big return was the Bears 2022 first-round pick and 2022 fourth-round pick.

According to the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart (which is a bit outdated but we can use for this exercise), the Giants lost 400 points worth of draft capital. According to the chart, 400 points is equivalent to the 50th overall pick in the draft. The worst first round pick (32nd overall) is worth 590 points, not to mention the two additional day three picks. More modern draft charts that do not value top picks as highly versus lower picks, indicate an even better return for the Giants. It is hard to argue Gettleman did not walk away with a generous haul while still being able to select one of the draft's top playmakers in Toney.

The Giants now own two first round picks next season, which will allow them to move anywhere they want in the draft and continue to build the foundation of the team. Next year's draft will include a full draft process (Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, in-person meetings), more scouting opportunities during the season, a larger pool of draftable players, and more information on the class. The best teams in the league win when they have their best players on cost-control contracts and additional picks in next year's class makes that far more likely.

Owning more high draft picks next season when the salary cap is still expected to be tight and prohibitive also gives the Giants an ability to add players to the roster if they cannot muster a lot of cap space. Is it wrong I'm already excited about next year's draft when the Giants have two first-round picks? Probably. But fans should be excited for the added potential this trade brings to the Giants' future.

View photos of the 20th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Dan Salomone: The roller coaster of emotions Giants' fans went on last night was felt through social media as we got closer and closer to the No. 11 selection. All the while, the Giants' top brass stuck to their plan, no matter how tense it may have been in the draft room when they saw an intra-division trade ahead of them. The only thing that matters is the end result, and that was gaining an extra selection this year and two more in 2022, including a coveted first-rounder from the Bears, who have just two winning seasons in the past decade.

Oh, and they gained a quarterback-turned-wide receiver who can also play running back.

"Normally doesn't happen within the division, but hey, look, the enemy of my enemy is my friend," coach Joe Judge said of the Eagles trading with the Cowboys up to No. 10 to draft Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. "They made a move that worked for them, and that was a good business move. That being said, in terms of the roller coaster of emotions, you just let the round play out. [You] evaluate all these players for a reason. You never know how it's going to shake out. You know where you want to take certain guys. You know what you're looking to fill in terms of best player available and some positions of need. We are very happy how it turned out, but we added great value.

"Let's not mistake that these picks, they are people, so let's not forget about that. You're adding people to your team. You know, you talk about the value of having good, young developmental players to work with, and we just went through a season of free agency, where we invested a lot in a team by adding veterans to our team and this is an opportunity to get more picks to add good young developmental players to our team, whether it's this year or next."

Lance Medow: Before we even to get who the Giants selected in the first round, the much bigger surprise was the fact that Gettleman traded back for the first time in his career as a general manager. After the Eagles jumped ahead of the Giants by swapping spots with the Cowboys to grab Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, New York traded with Chicago and landed a fifth-round pick this year and a first-round selection and fourth rounder in 2022. So, the Giants will have two first-round picks next year when the draft process will resemble the pre-pandemic structure, there will be more access to players and, most important, additional film to review.

The Giants wound up adding another offensive weapon with the 20th overall pick in Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Although the team signed Kenny Golladay, John Ross and Kyle Rudolph in free agency, all three – in addition to Saquon Barkley and Sherling Shepard - recently missed time due to injuries. You can never go into a season assuming all of your top players will be available for all 16 games. On top of that, the offensive averaged just 17.5 points in 2020 and the Giants' front office made it very clear that the off-season goal was to provide Daniel Jones with multiple weapons. Toney fits that bill as a versatile player, who lined up in the backfield, the slot and on the outside for the Gators.

Jason Garrett will want to get creative in how he utilizes Toney's skills. The Florida star was a high school quarterback and even went 3-of-6 passing for 82 yards and a touchdown with the Gators. Given how Garrett used Golden Tate's arm at times last season, I wouldn't be surprised if Toney assumes that type of role in addition to what he can bring to the table as a fast, explosive playmaker (specifically after the catch). He also returned kickoffs and punts at Florida and could be an option for Thomas McGaughey's return units. Based on what Giants director of college scouting Chris Pettit told reporters, Toney made a strong impression when he met with the team at the Senior Bowl. Pettit mentioned Toney was the last prospect they spoke with and brought a great deal of energy to a conversation that came following a lengthy exhausting day. Now, he'll look to use that energy to exhaust opposing defenses.

View the best players still available in NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's top 150 prospect ranking.


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