INDIANAPOLIS – With the No. 4 pick in their wallet, the Giants can afford beachfront property in the 2020 NFL Draft. But the question this week at the NFL Scouting Combine – and all the way up to April 23 – is what do they want to build on it?
Linemen are known for their good foundation. Defensive playmakers have a high return on investment. Wide receivers flat out make your neighbors jealous. General manager Dave Gettleman has to take all of these options into consideration, plus the taste of head coach Joe Judge, a first-time buyer.
The Giants' decision-makers met with the media this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, where more than 300 prospects have gathered to showcase their skills to NFL developers. The Giants' hierarchy spoke about what types of players they are looking for on the market.
Smart, tough, fundamentally sound and unselfish
Judge said those were the four most important characteristics when evaluating a prospect, which should come as no surprise from a disciple of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, but Judge reiterated they are not trying to re-create the Alabama Crimson Tide or New England Patriots.
"The only priority is to bring in good football players who meet the values and principles of the organization," Judge said. "We're not trying to re-create anywhere we've been before. We have a lot of coaches with a lot of experience from different programs. We're interested in building the 2020 New York Giants, not re-creating any other program we've been part of."
Offensive tackle is "absolutely" a position at which the Giants have to look
Between his five drafts with the Panthers and two so far with the Giants, Gettleman has never selected an offensive lineman in the first round as general manager. The only tackle he has chosen for Big Blue is George Asafo-Adjei, a seventh-rounder last year. Gettleman said today it is a position they "absolutely" have to look at for second-year quarterback Daniel Jones.
"The bottom line is, last time I checked, it's really difficult to complete a pass when you're on your back. I've done that study," Gettleman said. "The bottom line is, it's really the front. You need to give the young kids, because our game is so different from what he's been doing since he was in high school, because high school is shoot them up, bang-bang football. Since he's been there, you have to give him a front that allows him to learn how to play the game."
Pass rusher would be great, but Giants also need a strong backend
For all the smoke and mirrors this time of year, Gettleman has never gotten too cute with the draft. At the 2018 combine, Gettleman gushed about Saquon Barkley and hog mollies. He then drafted the Penn State running back and UTEP guard Will Hernandez. In 2019, he said it would be a "gift" to draft Eli Manning's successor. What did he do? He drafted Daniel Jones. This year, Gettleman has made it clear that "offense scores points, defense wins championships." Naturally, eyes turn to pass rushers, but the Giants also need a strong defensive backfield.
"Listen, who doesn't want a great pass rusher? Anybody here? The bottom line is it's who's available and how you can make the best situation work," Gettleman said. "This is a throwing league. Everybody tells me that. You guys are very happy to tell me that, that it's a throwing league. Well, at the end of the day, you need to have a strong back end, and oh by the way, if you have a strong back end, it helps your front end. The front end helps your back end. It's complimentary football is what it is. Listen, you guys know I've been involved with teams that have had great pass rushers. My first great pass rusher was Bruce Smith. I think he did pretty good. I know what it looks like. But, sometimes, you do what you can. You do what you think is right."
Trade is always a possibility
When you own the fourth overall pick, you have more than one need to fill. So the option to trade down and turn one selection into two is always on the table. As Gettleman said, the Giants are open for business.
Judge added, "We're looking for the best move for the New York Giants at this point. The fourth pick is a great pick. There is a lot of beachfront property right there. But whatever the scenario that comes to be that is best for the Giants, whether it's trading back, moving back, look we're open to listen to anything. We don't have to do anything, but we'll listen to anything."