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NFL Draft 2017: Would the New York Giants trade up in Round 1?

A look at Jerry Reese’s history, and what moving might mean

NFL: Combine
Jerry Reese
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There has been much discussion lately about whether or not the New York Giants, with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, would seriously consider moving up in the draft for a player they covet.

Let’s break down the draft history of Giants general manager Jerry Reese, and what could be involved in making a move up the board.

Reese’s Draft Trades

  • May 22, 2007: Giants traded an undisclosed 2007 draft pick to Chiefs for Lawrence Tynes
  • Sept. 1, 2007: Packers traded 2008 6th round pick (194th overall subsequently traded, Ryan Mundy) to Giants for Ryan Grant
  • April 27, 2008: Steelers traded 2008 4th round pick (123rd overall, Bryan Kehl) to Giants for 2008 4th round pick (130th overall, Tony Hills) and 2008 6th round pick (194th overall, Ryan Mundy)
  • July 21, 2008: Saints traded an undisclosed 2008 draft pick to Giants for Jeremy Shockey
  • April 26, 2009: Eagles traded 2009 3rd round pick (85th overall, Ramses Barden) to Giants for 2009 3rd round pick (91st overall subsequently traded, Deon Butler) and 2009 5th round pick (164th overall subsequently traded, Thomas Morstead)
  • Sept. 4, 2010: Giants traded 2010 7th round pick to Vikings for Sage Rosenfels and Darius Reynaud
  • April 12, 2012: Giants traded 2012 5th round pick (167th overall, George Iloka) to Bengals for Keith Rivers
  • April 27, 2013: Cardinals traded 2013 4th round pick (110th overall, Ryan Nassib) to Giants for 2013 4th round pick (116th overall, Earl Watford) and 2013 6th round pick (187th overall, Andre Ellington)
  • Oct. 4, 2013: Giants traded 2014 7th round pick (225th overall subsequently traded, Jabari Price) to Panthers for Jon Beason
  • May 1, 2015: Giants traded 2015 2nd round pick (40th overall, Dorial Green-Beckham), 2015 4th round pick (108th overall, Jalston Fowler) and 2015 7th round pick (245th overall, Tre McBride) to Titans for 2015 2nd round pick (33rd overall, Landon Collins)
  • Sept. 4, 2015: Giants traded 2016 7th round pick (229th overall, Demarcus Ayers) to Steelers for Brad Wing

Source: Pro Football Reference

What Can We Learn From Those?

  • Reese has never traded — up or down — in Round 1.
  • The thing Reese has done most often (five times) is use a late-round draft pick to acquire a veteran player, or players.
  • Reese has moved up in the middle rounds of the draft (second to fourth round) four times. Three of those deals (Ramses Barden, Bryan Kehl, Ryan Nassib) have been flops. The only time moving up worked in the Giants’ favor was in 2015, when the Giants jumped from 40th to 33rd overall to select safety Landon Collins.

What Do The Rules Say?

In the Big Blue View Rules for Draft Success, trading down and accumulating draft choices is generally preferred to trading up and surrendering them:

There are very few times when any player is worth trading up for, thus causing a team to mortgage valuable draft picks. You need depth in the NFL, and you can't accumulate it by trading away your draft choices -- which is what you have to do to move up. Generally, it is better to move down and accumulate more draft choices than to move up and wind up with less. Your mistakes hurt less when you have more choices, you can take risks on occasion and -- if the situation is right -- you can actually use some of those 'extra' picks to move up when you feel it is warranted.

When is it OK to move up? If you are moving into the top 10 for a guy you believe is a franchise-changer or the one piece you need to put you over the top and into the Super Bowl, that is OK. Also, if you have accumulated extra picks perhaps then you can use that flexibility to target a player or two in the draft or via trade. This, really, could be called the 'New England Patriots Rule.'

Normally, though, move down instead of moving up.

The Shadow of George Young

The Giants have had only three general managers since 1979, and their paths are all inter-connected. George Young ran the show from 1979-1997. Ernie Accorsi was GM from 1998-2007 and Reese has had the job since taking over from Accorsi. Accorsi joined the Giants in 1994 as assistant general manager, the same year Reese was hired as a scout. Reese has worked in the Giants’ organization ever since, so he knew what Young believed in and learned in more depth at the foot of Accorsi.

Young believed in a conservative draft philosophy. Stay put, trust your scouts, take the best player you can when it’s your turn to draft. Don’t go chasing players, giving up draft picks and moving all around the board like your’re playing chess.

Dan Hatman, now director of The Scouting Academy, has a Super Bowl ring from his time as a scouting intern with the Giants.

“It’s a little hard for me to picture them moving just, in part, because that’s not how they’ve been trained. George’s philosophy is strong within that. Ernie’s there, too, being the mentor,” Hatman said.

“I don’t ever assume that a person’s philosophy is only beholden to where they’ve been. In the case of Jerry he grew up in that organization. That’s where he’s been and I would imagine many of his philosophies are probably shaped by an Ernie-type figure. It wouldn’t surprise me if he steadfastly believes those things as well. Then again, experience is a wonderful teacher.”

Breaking New Ground

As the saying goes, there is a first time for everything. Just because Reese has never made a move in the first round doesn’t mean that he won’t. It means that it might take a special circumstance.

Could two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning reaching the age of 36 be that circumstance? If it is, that opens two possibilities. One, doing what you have to do if you have identified the player you believe can and should be his successor. Two, making a move for a player you believe helps give you a chance to make Manning’s remaining years good ones.

Back to Hatman, who’s first year with the Giants (2006) was Accorsi’s last.

“One of the things I remember from Ernie when I was there ... I remember getting some time with him and him talking about where he thought the important parts of team-building were. His line was “you need a quarterback, a left tackle and as many pass rushers as you can find.” If you look at the times when Ernie made a move I’d say that Eli [Manning] and [Mathias] Kiwanuka [a 2006 trade down] would be in those categories. You’re talking about a quarterback and a pass rusher. I would imagine that he would probably make a move if there was a left tackle,” Hatman said.

What Would Be Worth It In This Class?

Would the Giants move up for one of the top quarterbacks in this class? A tight end like O.J. Howard or David Njoku? An offensive tackle like Ryan Ramczyk? A premier pass rusher?

Hatman says the Giants’ track record, combined with their needs and the strengths/weaknesses of this draft class make a move for an offensive tackle most likely.

“Because of having the depth at pass rusher you have in this draft and the fact that depending on who you like there’s still a good chance they’ll be there at 23 I don’t see that one. I’m struggling to see a scenario where they would trade for a quarterback. I think you’re going to have those top guys pretty much all gone by the time you get to 13,” Hatman said.

“So, yes, I think the most likely one would be if they like one of the tackles a lot, top 15 type grade on him, and they start seeing a situation where that guy might be available because this is not a position in this particular class where you’re going to go snag guys in the second, third, fourth round depending on your board.”

There has, of course, been much focus leading up to the draft on Howard and Njoku being targets for the Giants.

“The perceived positional value -- where does your organization think tight ends are at in terms of the grand scheme of things? If I’m the Giants there’s two scenarios I guess you could argue. One is that the last few years of the Will Tyes, Larry Donnell and basically everything since maybe the [Jeremy] Shockey era may be proving to you this should be higher up on your priority list,” Hatman said.

“The counter argument is that they haven’t valued the position since they took Shockey. It doesn’t seem like Jerry values it that highly. Now, if a good player is on the board at 23 I’m not saying he wouldn’t consider that. It would be silly not to. I’m struggling to take what he’s done since he took over and say there is a clear pattern here that would lead me to believe that he’s going to want to give up resources to go get Howard or Njoku or what have you.”

What About A Move In Round 2?

Reese has shown that he is willing to manuever after Round 1, with his boldest move being his 2015 move up to the first pick of the second round for Collins. Could he do something like that again if a player the Giants have a Round 1 grade on is still available after 32 picks? While a Round 1 deal is always possible, a move like this seems more likely. Especially since Reese has done it before.

“You’re sitting there in the second going, OK we’re going to give up a fourth for a guy we have grades as a first-rounder,” Hatman said. “That’s not that hard of a sell in most organizations.”

Risk vs. Reward

Every move in the draft is a risk. Moving down helps you collect more picks and gives you more chances to succeed, but it also opens you to the risk of missing out on a player you may have really wanted. Moving up means you lose draft picks, which means if you are wrong about the player you pay a steep penalty because you have fewer chances to make up for your mistake.

“If you’re starting with seven and that’s all you’ve got, even if you’re taking the [Hall of Fame GM] Bill Polian 50 percent hit rate as being good then you’re saying on seven picks our best-case scenario is only three or four of them turning into productive players. You start saying I’ve got to give up one or two of those assets to go get somebody and all of a sudden now I’m looking at four or five players,” Hatman said.

“It really comes down to how much confidence you have in your evaluation acumen. … You’ve gotta decide just how good you think you are.”

What Will The Giants Do?

As we sit here today, nobody knows. Reese doesn’t even know, though we can be sure that when he meets the media on April 20 for his pre-draft press conference he will say that he keeps all of his options open.

My guess? There might be a better chance of a move up the board in Round 1 this year than in past years, but not a drastic one. Perhaps a few spots for a position player, but a move for a quarterback seems unlikely.

In the end, we all just have to wait until the evening of April 27 to find out. Hopefully, though, this exercise has given you a little more understanding of how a move could happen.

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