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Would the Giants trade up for Sam Darnold?

Let’s examine the possibility

Goodyear Cotton Bowl - USC v Ohio State
Sam Darnold
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Sam Darnold, off an impressive Pro Day, is now widely expected to go to the Cleveland Browns as the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. With the New York Giants holding the No. 2 pick that means the Giants would have no shot at making Darnold the heir apparent to Eli Manning at quarterback.

Or ...

Would the Giants really do that? If Darnold is the top quarterback and top player on their draft board, and he might be, would they actually move up to get him?

Anything is possible (I’m avoiding the “never say never” phrase from a certain former coach), but this seems unlikely.

Would the Browns do this?

Cleveland has little choice but to come away from this draft with a quarterback. They have the No. 4 overall pick and could wait, but with their pick of the litter at No. 1 and the chance quarterbacks could go with the first three picks why would they take that risk? More importantly, why would they trade away their chance to get the guy they want? The expectation is that the Browns won’t wait.

Giants GM Dave Gettleman has said that while you want to be open to moving around in the draft you don’t want to get too cute. The Browns have dealt away a few picks, but they still have nine selections in the upcoming draft. To me, trading down with the Giants in this spot would be the Browns getting too cute.

Could the Giants do this?

The Giants are expected to be “open for business” with the No. 2 pick. That doesn’t mean they won’t pick at No. 2, but you have to figure they will consider any and all offers for the pick. A trade down to get the Nos. 12 and 22 picks and other assets from the Buffalo Bills is widely speculated about. The Denver Broncos pick at No. 5 and could want to move up. There could be other suitors for that second pick.

You can make legitimate arguments for staying at No. 2 and selecting between Saquon Barkley, Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb and whatever quarterback is next on your list behind Darnold. You can also make a compelling argument for trading down and acquiring multiple early-round picks to facilitate the reconstruction of the roster.

But, trading up? As much as the Giants need a succession plan for Eli Manning, that would seem to be a difficult thing for the Giants to do.

Sure, they have the draft assets. By the traditional draft trade chart, the Giants’ second-round pick (34th overall) or their two third-round picks (66th and 69th) would be enough to get a deal done.

The problem? The Giants would be throwing away any real chance to acquire top-tier players who could help maximize Manning’s remaining time, and help the Giants get better in 2018. If they are committed to Manning for a year or more, they have to help him. Using a first-round pick on a quarterback — and trading away other premium draft picks to do it — would do the opposite.

The draft is never necessarily about the upcoming season. Rather, is is about setting your franchise up for long-term success. The Giants appear to be straddling that line between trying to improve now and build a better long-term future. A trade up for Darnold might help the latter objective, but it would clearly hinder the former.

More draft notes

With the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end Bradley Chubb is in the conversation at No. 2. analyst Bucky Brooks believes Chubb is a better player than Myles Garrett, the defensive end who went first overall to the Browns last year.

Apparently, USC running back Ronald Jones II is not helping himself during the draft process.