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'Trader Dave' bolsters roster while stockpiling picks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Just call him Dealin' Dave.

The NFL Draft has completed three rounds, and Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who entered this draft with a reputation as a reluctant trader, has executed a deal in every one of those rounds.

He traded back and acquired extra picks in rounds one and two before trading up in round three and relinquishing one of the additional choices he added earlier.

"I'm sure Dave has got a concussion or something, so make sure we check on him overnight and we'll get back to work tomorrow," coach Joe Judge said.

"Trader Dave has brought some excitement to the room, so it's been fun," said Chris Pettit, the Giants' director of college scouting. "Trader Dave is hearing it from a lot of people throughout the league, so it's been fun. There's been a little ribbing. It's not like we haven't tried (to trade in the past). Dave said it; I'll say it. It worked out. It's exciting. It gave a little juice. It's been different. The room is different without all our people in it. We were limited to only 10 people, but there was enough ribbing with the 10 people to keep it exciting."

The swapfest began in Thursday's first round, when the Giants sent the 11th overall selection to the Chicago Bears for the 20th pick and a fifth-round choice in the current draft and first and fourth-round selections in 2022.

Gettleman's first move Friday was to deal the Giants' second-round selection – 10th in the round and No. 42 overall - to the Miami Dolphins for the 50th selection and a third-round choice in the 2022 draft. They then took Azeez Ojulari, an outside linebacker from the University of Georgia widely considered the best edge rusher in the draft and a player Gettleman said the Giants would have taken had they stayed at 42.

Gettleman had never traded down in his eight previous drafts as a general manager.

The Giants moved in the opposite direction in round three, sending the 76th overall pick and the fifth-round choice they acquired Thursday from the Bears to the Denver Broncos for the 71st selection, where they secured Central Florida cornerback Aaron Robinson.

The maneuvering leaves the Giants with three selections over the final four rounds on Saturday: one in the fourth and two in the sixth, the second which they received in a trade with Arizona for linebacker Markus Golden. They sent their seventh-round choice to Denver last year for cornerback Isaac Yiadom.

In his pre-draft news conference, Gettleman said, "(Draft analyst) Daniel Jeremiah had a great line: 'NASCAR will have right turns before Dave Gettleman trades back.'"

And now?

"I'm learning to make right turns in NASCAR," Gettleman said. "So, we traded back to 50. We got a third-round pick in '22 and picked up Azeez Ojulari, who we are really thrilled to get. He's an edge pass rusher. He's instinctive. He's very bright. He plays hard, and he's got pass rush ability and he's also a solid run player. We're really thankful to get him.

"In the third round, we swapped spots with Denver and wanted to move up. Obviously, we're working on defense and we picked Aaron Robinson, who is a nickel, who has got the ability to play nickel and outside the perimeter, and he's an excellent tackler, ball hawk. He's got all the stuff. So, we're really pleased to get these two kids into our program."

They're just as excited for how they've set themselves up for the 2022 draft, in which the Giants own two selections in the first, third and fourth rounds. That draft is expected to be stronger and deeper than the current draft. It will also follow what will be a more traditional evaluation period, including the return of the scouting combine and in-person interviews at team facilities, which were canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a priority," Gettleman said of adding picks for next year. "It was important to us.

"This draft right now, in terms of unknowns, you have more unknowns than you can shake a stick at. You have kids that didn't play this year. You have a lot of incomplete medical information. It's really kind of an odd draft class. It's an odd year. The NCAA allowed all those players to get another year and a ton of them did. One of the SEC schools, they had 13 kids decide to go back and play next year, 13 kids that could have been in this draft. That was pretty heavy throughout the Power Five conferences. We really have a feeling that next year's draft is going to be really strong and it just gives you options."

As he's demonstrated in the last two days, Gettleman won't be afraid to use them all.

View photos of second-round pick Azeez Ojulari.

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