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For the Giants, it’s got to be quarterback or trade down with No. 2 pick

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Thoughts on that and more in today’s ‘Valentine’s Views’

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Saquon Barkley
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The New York Jets shook the 2018 NFL Draft to its core Saturday, moving up three spots from No. 6 to No. 3. In my view, it leaves the Giants with a simple (well, really not so simple) choice. They either take a quarterback with the second overall pick, or they trade out of that spot for the biggest haul they can get.

Sorry, Saquon Barkley fans! I know you are going to scream bloody murder that you believe he is the best player in the draft. He might be. He is the “sexiest,” but I still go back to the idea that I recently had a scout tell me the only sure Hall of Fame player in this draft class in Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.

Here’s the thing. By making this trade, the Jets may as well have taken out a billboard in Times Square that read in bright colors “We, the New York Jets, are taking a quarterback with the third pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.”

There is absolutely no other reason for the Jets to surrender three second-round picks to make that move.

It tells the Cleveland Browns that they can’t wait until No. 4 to take their quarterback of the future. They have to do that No. 1.

That puts the Giants squarely in control of the draft at that point. If they are in love with any of the QBs Cleveland leaves on the board — I’m working off the belief that Browns GM John Dorsey is a smart man who knows he has to take a quarterback at No. 1 — they have to take their shot.

As Dave Gettleman says, though, they have to be right. If the quarterback choices leave them queasy, trading out is the only real move they have.

The Denver Broncos, with the fifth overall pick, could match the deal the Jets gave the Indianapolis Colts (two 2018 second-rounders and a 2019 second-rounder) to move up. At five, the Giants could probably still get one of Nelson or Barkley. Maybe even a quarterback. Unless you love a quarterback, you almost have to do that.

The Indianapolis Colts now have the No. 6 pick. But, they also have three second-round picks after the deal with the Jets. They might not want a QB, but what if they are willing to move up for Barkley or Bradley Chubb? The No. 6 pick and a trio of second-rounders, even if one is next year? You have to do that. There will still be fantastic, difference-making choices on the board. Again, unless you love a quarterback you must have at No. 2, you pretty much have to make that deal.

We’ve talked several times about scenarios involving moving down to No. 12 in a deal with the Buffalo Bills.

What will the Giants do? Right now, Gettleman probably isn’t even sure.

Big Hank back to the Giants?

I was heading out to dinner Saturday night when I heads the news that the Indianapolis Colts were releasing Johnathan Hankins one year after signing him to a 3-year, $27 million contract. My first thought was ‘Giants fans will start asking about bringing him back.’ Then, Chris went and played right into that in his report about the move.

In my view, there is very little chance of a Hankins-Giants reunion. Carl Banks brought up the idea on Twitter Saturday, then shot it down. I think he is absolutely on target, so I will let him explain.

Hankins would be useful as a 3-4 nose tackle or a run-stuffing 5-tech defensive end. Problem is, the Giants already have Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. They also don’t really have starter money to pay Hankins in free agency. He showed last offseason that he is willing to be patient and wait out the market for the offer he wants. Hankins isn’t going to accept rotational player money, or rotational player snaps. Nor should he.

All of which is why I believe a return to the Giants is highly unlikely.

Tyrann Mathieu a big miss by Giants? Maybe not

When the Arizona Cardinals released Tyrann Mathieu, The Honey Badger was immediately connected to the Giants. That made sense both because of a need in the secondary and the presence of James Bettcher, who coached him in Arizona, as defensive coordinator. Fans began to beat the Mathieu drum. Players, too.

Mathieu, though, chose the Houston Texans. He bet on himself be accepting a 1-year, $7 million deal. Could the Giants have figured out a way to match that? Probably. Maybe they did, and Mathieu turned them down. We will never know. All we know for sure is he won’t be a Giant.

Did the Giants miss out by not getting Mathieu to come to New York? It would have been a “sexy” signing that excited the fan base. Mathieu is a good player, but knee injuries have taken their toll and by most accounts he isn’t the player he was during his All-Pro 2015 season.

Pro Football Focus took an in-depth look at Mathieu and concluded that his versatility is an asset, but his coverage skills have declined.

The Giants still have a need at corner, and perhaps at safety depending upon their view of Darian Thompson. There are, however, still a number of quality defense backs on the free-agent market. This is also a draft where the Giants should be able to find secondary help in the middle rounds.

So, missing out Mathieu shouldn’t really be that big of a deal.

About those drafts

Every time the subject of the Giants’ failures in the draft in recent years comes up, there are some who want to bash yours truly as a Jerry Reese hater who will use any excuse to bash the deposed GM. Pat Traina felt a little of that wrath the other day when she dared to write that “poor drafting” was part of the reason the Giants have had to invest so heavily in the free-agent market.

Well, she’s right. The Giants have missed the playoffs in five of six seasons — with losing records in four of those. They went 3-13 last season and Reese got fired. Lack of talent on the roster was a big reason why.

I was asked the other day what the numbers were in terms of draft success/failure for the Giants and how that compares to other teams. There are a number of ways to study that and I have started, but not completed, a look at it.

Here, though, is one measure looking at players remaining on a team’s roster from 2012-2015. I didn’t use the last two years because nearly all of the players taken in the last two drafts should be on your roster, and going back farther seemed pointless. Players drafted in that pocket should be the core of your roster. Again, I have barely begun this study but here are some numbers.

2012-2015 Draft Comparison

Team Number of Picks Players Remaining Percentage
Team Number of Picks Players Remaining Percentage
Giants 27 3 11.1
Eagles 30 16 53.3
Patriots 34 9 26.5
Vikings 39 10 25.6

The Eagles, of course, are Super Bowl champs. The Patriots are, well, the Patriots. The Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game. The Panthers have been good much of that stretch, and Dave Gettleman ran three of those drafts.

Drafting and keeping players matters. That’s all both Pat and I are trying to say.