Now that I’m home from the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine and settled down from an incredibly exciting game won by the 7th and 8th grade CYO boys’ basketball team I coach on Saturday, here are a few of my leftover thoughts as the Combine ends and the real wait for the 2020 NFL Draft begins.
Dave Gettleman and trading back from No. 4
It is constantly pointed out that in seven drafts as a general manager, Dave Gettleman has never traded down to accumulate more picks. That is one of the reasons why his “we’re open for business” statement at the Combine drew so much attention.
Now, is Gettleman serious? How far down would he go? Who or what would be the target if he does move down?
Let’s try to read the tea leaves.
First, here is what Gettleman said when asked if he was “open” to the idea of trading down.
“Absolutely. We’re open for business. Again, whatever we do is going to be in our best interest. Trading back has its danger. What happens if you trade back eight spots … we’re at four, let’s say we trade back to eight. There’s only four players that we like, what if they’re all gone? Now what are you going to do? You’re going to trade back again? You can trade yourself back out of good players. But to answer your question, we’re open.”
Here’s what the GM said about the draft class.
“There’s a lot. There are some really good players. ... There are a lot of high-graded players, I’ll tell you that right upfront. I’m excited to see where the board ends up. It’s a pretty strong draft, it really is.”
So ... heck, yes I think Gettleman is serious about being “open for business” and willing to trade down.
I seriously doubt, though, that he’s going to be willing to trade out of the top 10. I have no doubt he would go back as for as No. 7 (Carolina Panthers) for what he considered to be the right offer.
Would he go down to No. 9 (Jacksonville Jaguars)? Maybe, if they ponied up the 20th pick in the first round to go along with it.
Would he go to 10 (Cleveland Browns)? Maybe, but the Browns would have to offer their second rounder (No. 41) and their first pick in Round 3 (No. 74) to even consider it, in my view.
I doubt he would go any lower than that.
What would the Giants target if they moved back?
Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media has reported that he believes Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown would be the target. I think whether or not the Giants re-sign Williams will tell you if there could be truth in that.
I firmly believe that if the Giants don’t sign a quality starting offensive tackle in free agency, they will have a hard time passing on Mekhi Becton if he is available wherever they draft. Moving down and selecting whoever they believe is the best offensive tackle would be no shock.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if their move-down target ended up being Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, again depending on what they were able to accomplish in free agency.
Jadaveon Clowney rumors
There have been several reports in recent days from folks like Jordan Ranaan of ESPN and Matt Lombaro of New Jersey Advance Media that the Giants are one of the primary players in the Jadaveon Clowney sweepstakes.
I have heard those same whispers. Am I crazy about the idea? Not really. I’d rather have Yannick Ngakoue, but if the Jacksonville Jaguars are smart Ngakoue never reaches the open market.
Do I buy that the Giants would go all in on Clowney, 27, if he is the only elite pass rusher who hits the open market?
Here’s what Gettleman said at the Combine when asked if he felt he had to find a dominant pass rusher:
“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. 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 backend, 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 complementary 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.”
The price tag for Clowney, according to what I’ve been told, is at least five years and in excess of $100 million. Would the Giants go that far? They gave Olivier Vernon, a much inferior player to Clowney, five years and $85 million at a time when the cap was tens of millions of dollars lower.
So, if Gettleman and Joe Judge believe Clowney is the right player I think they would.
About Leonard Williams
You have no doubt heard Gettleman’s “I’ll get killed” if the Giants don’t resign defensive tackle Leonard Williams “but I have thick rhino skin.”
Well, that’s a pat myself on the back moment because it came when yours truly asked Gettleman understood what the perception would be if the Giants don’t keep Williams after trading two picks for him.
Now, will the Giants keep him? A year ago, Gettleman said he didn’t want to use a franchise or transition tag on Landon Collins because you then have an unhappy player on your hands. I’m not sure that’s the case with Williams because I’m not sure anyone else out there is going to give him big money.
If the Giants keep him the transition tag seems like the way to go.
A lightbulb moment thanks to Isaiah Simmons
I wrote earlier in the week about the multi-talented Isaiah Simmons saying he plays “defense” and is a “positionless” player rather than a linebacker. He said he played as many as five different positions in some games at Clemson.
How on earth could he prepare for all of that?
Simmons said he had the ability to “learn everything very fast.”
He also, though, mentioned something that made me question everything about the way defensive coaching staffs are constructed and defense is taught in the current NFL.
“At Clemson our back seven, we all meet in the same room so I’m able to hear everything all at one time as opposed to having to go from room to room,” Simmons said.
(Ed has lightbulb moment hearing that remark).
Just think about the Giants, who are typical of NFL teams when it comes to construction of a coaching staff. There is an inside linebackers coach, an outside linebackers coach, and a defensive backs coach. All of those groups meet separately. Some teams have separate cornerback and safety coaches. Some teams have defensive tackle and defensive end coaches.
How on earth do all of those groups play cohesive defense if they aren’t being taught as a group? It’s no wonder you get miscommunications in pass coverage. On top of which, how do guys you want to move around in different positions learn their responsibilities when meetings are going on in three different rooms?
Maybe some teams do it the way it’s done at Clemson, I’m not sure. I just know it sounds to me like Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is onto something there.
Something I forgot to mention ...
... When I did my “Ed’s excellent adventure” post was that Syracuse wide receiver Trishton Jackson was on my flight out of Indianapolis Friday morning. The NFLPA warmup jacket he was wearing and the name placard used to ID him during media sessions that was sticking out of his bag pretty much gave him away.
Jackson seems like a really nice young guy. I introduced myself and chatted a little, which led other football fan passengers to perk up and talk to him. I have no idea where the young man fits in an incredibly deep wide receiver class, but I wish him well.