NFL insider Ian Rapoport said Thursday several people around the league are “convinced” the Giants will do that with their pick at No. 6, despite conventional wisdom indicating otherwise. During GM Dave Gettleman’s pre-draft press conference on Thursday, reporters probed ... and probed ... and probed for clues. Let’s look at what Gettleman said, and you can make up your own mind what you believe his intentions are.
He won’t reach for a QB
“I won’t force a pick. You can’t draft for need. You will get screwed every time and make a mistake,” Gettleman said.
This is a philosophy Gettleman has espoused before, and proved a year ago when he selected running back Saquon Barkley instead of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, quarterbacks who all went in the top 10.
“We couldn’t pass up on Saquon. He was the best player in the draft. You can’t do that,” he said.
He said Thursday that quarterback is not a “special category” in terms of draft priority. Would he again pass on a quarterback with a first-round grade?
“It’s still about value. It’s who’s going to give you the most value at this spot. You start reaching for need, you do that, you get into trouble,” he said.
“The priority is to select the best players.”
Does Gettleman love any QBs in this class?
Some believe Dwayne Haskins is the Giants’ favorite quarterback in this draft class. Other think it’s Daniel Jones. Still other believe that designation belongs to Drew Lock. Gettleman didn’t offer any clues on Thursday, other than to say “If we have a QB rated in the first round, we love him.”
In Adam Stites’ terrific piece on the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers trade, then-Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said “You pick a quarterback to win championships.”
Gettleman has admitted that Accorsi is a “consigliere” for him — a close confidante. So, does Gettleman see any quarterbacks in this draft class who could potentially win Super Bowls?
“There’s a couple. There’s some really good quarterbacks in this draft, yes,” he said.
Being a QB in New York is “a load”
“One of the things that I really believe is being the quarterback of a team in this kind of a market is a load. Is a mental load. You’ve gotta really vet out the backgrounds of these guys” Gettleman said. “It’s more than looking at a guy’s physical talent. It’s about his makeup.
“You’ve gotta have a mental toughness about you to play the position here in New York. That’s a big piece of it, and it’s important.”
Gettleman said he knew Eli Manning had that toughness when, in the final game of a difficult rookie season, Manning audibled to a game-winning draw play with just seconds remaining and no timeouts in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
“There’s a lot of guys that have never had adversity, and you will have adversity up here. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how great a player you are,” Gettleman said.
“Everybody has adversity. Every one of ‘em. It’s who’s mentally tough enough to say OK, it’s not happening again. For a lot of these guys it’s a very legitimate question.”
Is there a sense of urgency to get a QB now?
Gettleman admitted that it would be a “sweet deal” to get a successor now who could “learn at the feet of Eli.” At the Combine, he referenced the idea of implementing the “Kansas City model,” or getting a quarterback who could sit and prepare for a year or so before taking over the job.
Still, for the GM it comes back to value, to getting the right guy at the right spot and not forcing the pick.
“If you put a lot of pressure on it, you are going to make a mistake. I am not going to put a level on that. You let the draft come to you. We went into last season with Eli and thought he had plenty left. He proved that. We will just see how it goes,” Gettleman said.
“I said ‘the KC model’, people have been doing that for years. This is just the most recent one. How about the Green Bay model with [Aaron] Rodgers and [Brett] Farve? He sat two and a half, three years. That is what you would like to do. Eli is a pro’s pro and you guys know that. To allow a quarterback to learn at the feet of Eli, it would be a sweet deal. Kyle (Lauletta) is working on that right now. Don’t forget about Kyle. You would prefer that be the situation. You would hate to take a young kid and just throw him in there.”
As we sit here today what do I think Gettleman is going to do? I think that after removing Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins, Damon Harrison and Eli Apple from a defense that already wasn’t good enough the GM won’t be able to walk away from the best defensive player on the board at No. 6. Whoever he is, and whatever position he plays.
Asked if he needed a defensive play-maker in this draft, this is what the GM said:
“You sat there and watched it. We went 4-4 the second half of the year and we had three games that if we make a stop, we are 7-1. Obviously, you can’t have too many playmakers. You talk about roster construction, I have always been a big believer that if you look at the great defenses, they have a lead dog in every level. A legitimate playmaker at every level of their defense. I said it at the postseason presser and I will say it again, we need some defensive playmakers.”
Gettleman was asked directly if the top-tier defensive players in the draft could all be off the board by the sixth pick.
“A chance that they are all gone? No.”
The only way I can translate that is there will be a difference-making defensive player available at No. 6 that the GM is in love with. Especially if that player turns out to be defensive lineman Quinnen Williams of Alabama or edge Josh Allen of Kentucky, Gettleman won’t let him pass.
As for quarterback? I fully believe selecting an heir apparent to Manning is in play there, and that if there is a guy he really wants Gettleman would take that 17th pick and move as high as No. 9 (Buffalo Bills) to make it happen.
Could I be wrong? Sure. Maybe the board falls in such a way that Gettleman and the Giants decide not to mess around and just grab their quarterback at No. 6. Maybe they find too much value at other positions and decide not to take a quarterback at all.
The only thing that is absolutely certain is that we find out the answer next Thursday.