New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman set off alarm bells in some corners of the fan base a few days ago when he said a case could be not only for trading down from No. 11 in the 2021 NFL Draft but for trading up as well.
“You can make the argument to trade back because of this thing [the COVID-19 pandemic]. There are guys in this draft that when they put pads on in August it’ll be the first time in 20 months they’ll have put pads on, so you’ve got to think about that piece and some of those guys are very, very highly rated, so you’ve got to think about that,” Gettleman said, adding that it’s “very valid” to make a case for trading down. “So you can make that argument for that, you can make that argument to trade back, accumulate picks for next year. You can make the argument that you sit tight. You can make the argument that, knowing that your best information is going to be on the top guys, maybe you trade up. So, who knows?”
Would Gettleman really trade up? Maybe, but I believe that is highly unlikely. To me, that sounds more like draft gamesmanship. Could Gettleman, for example, be trying to give the Philadelphia Eagles the idea he might try to get ahead of them at No. 6 to select Florida tight end/wide receiver Kyle Pitts? Maybe that convinces the Eagles to move up, perhaps wasting some usable draft assets.
Regardless, it’s time for another of my weekly mock draft scenarios. This is a four-round mock draft using the Pro Football Network mock draft simulator.
With Gettleman’s trade up comment in mind, I went into this mock draft trying to trade up with LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase or Pitts as my targets. I began trying to engineer trades at No. 3 with the Miami Dolphins, and didn’t stop until my trade offers had been rejected by the Dolphins, Falcons at No. 4, Bengals at No. 5, Lions at No. 7 and Panthers at No. 8. Those offers generally included the 76th or 116th pick in 2021, and an early pick in the 2022 draft. I even got turned down including the Giants’ 2022 first-round pick in a package to Atlanta for the fourth pick.
When the simulator turned down my offer to Carolina for the No. 8 pick I stopped trying. That’s because when I got there, with only the Denver Broncos at No. 9 and Dallas Cowboys at No. 10, I realized I didn’t need to move at all. Pitts, Jaylen Waddle, Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain II and Micah Parsons were all still there, so I was going to end up with a desired player no matter what.
Here is how the draft unfolded.
Round 1 (No. 11) — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
I rejected a pair of trade-down offers here. The Las Vegas Raiders offered picks 17 and 48 and the Washington Football Team put 19 and 51 on the table. Considering how this played out, I decided to keep the 11th pick.
Why? Pitts was still on the board. Now, let’s be serious for a second. In the real draft, this would be a complete stunner. Remember what NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.
“I think you can make a strong case he’s the best player in the draft.”
If I’m Gettleman, I might break a hip I’d move so fast to get this pick in. Whether you think he’s a Darren Waller-esque tight end or a Plaxico Burress-esque wide receiver, I think he might be a perfect play maker for Jason Garrett and Daniel Jones.
If Pitts is available at No. 11, he’s not getting past me. Unless, miraculously, Chase is also still there.
Other players considered: Jaylen Waddle, Micah Parsons
Round 2 (No. 42) — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
After trying to move both up and down at No. 11, I approached this pick absolutely willing to move down. My price, though, was another selection in Round 3 or Round 4 of this draft. I couldn’t generate that offer. I had offers of pick No. 63 and second- and seventh-round picks in 2022 from the Kansas City Chiefs and pick No. 71 and second- and third-round picks from the Denver Broncos for Nos. 42 and 116. I wasn’t interested in those.
I was interested in Zaven Collins, who probably shouldn’t be on the board at No. 42. I was really tempted by Newsome, who probably steps right in as a starting cornerback. Dickerson could plug in to the right guard spot that opened up with the release of Kevin Zeitler. Javonte Williams? I put him here because he’s worthy of coming off the board at this point, but I can’t pull the trigger on a running back in Round 2 with Saquon Barkley on the roster.
Position value might tell you edge rusher or cornerback should be the pick here if all things are equal. Collins is primarily an off-ball linebacker, but that’s not all I see. In my eyes, he has the potential to be a three-down defensive difference-maker who can play the run, be a terror as a blitzer from the middle, handle zone coverage responsibility and be effective as a run defender or pass rusher off the edge when asked. The only question I have is whether he can handle man-coverage responsibilities. It’s just something Tulsa didn’t ask him to do.
Other players considered: Landon Dickerson, Asante Samuel Jr., Greg Newsome, Javonte Williams
Round 3 (No. 76) — TRADE!!!
Accepted picks No. 80 and 162 from Las Vegas in exchange for No. 76 and a 2022 seventh-rounder. Really didn’t think twice about this one. There are any number of players on the board here I would be happy to select, and pick No. 162 gets me into Round 5, where the Giants don’t have a selection entering the draft.
Round 3 (No. 80) — Jackson Carman, OL, Clemson
This was not an easy choice. I could have easily been happy choosing any of the players on the “other players considered” list.
I went with the mauling 6-foot-5, 330-pound Carman because I feel like this is the right part of the draft for him, and I feel like it is important to keep adding talented young assets to the offensive line.
Carman may or may not have the footwork to challenge Matt Peart at right tackle. He does, though, have the power and run-blocking nastiness to be a good NFL guard. The Giants should add to the offensive line mix at some point, and that’s what I’ve done here.
Other players considered: Quincy Roche, Edge, Miami; Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington, Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State, Nico Collins, WR, Michigan, Walker Little, OT, Stanford; Trill Williams, CB, Syracuse; D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Central Michigan; Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
Round 4 (No. 116) — Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
I was hoping to find a cornerback to add to the competition for CB2 opposite James Bradberry. This seemed like a good spot to do so. Taylor was really good at the Senior Bowl, and seems to fit the physical profile and skill set defensive coordinator Patrick Graham likes.
From Pro Football Network:
Positives: Two-year starter coming off a terrific senior campaign. Aggressive, feisty, and battles receivers. Fires up the field defending the run. Instinctive, keeps the action in front of him, and shows outstanding route recognition facing the action. Displays a good burst to the ball out of his plant, physically beats down receivers to defend the throw, and plays through the whistle. Defeats blocks by tight ends to get upfield and make plays against the run.
Negatives: Must improve and clean up his backpedal. Gave a big cushion to receivers last season. Struggles tracking the pass in man-to-man coverage.
Analysis: Taylor was a solid yet unspectacular corner at Washington who went on and had a terrific week of practice during the Senior Bowl. He has the size and skill to be a No. 2 cornerback in the NFL, but must clean up his techniques and consistently make plays with his back to the ball.
Other players considered: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan; Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford; Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA