What do the New York Giants want at No. 11 in the 2021 NFL Draft? Immediate production, that’s what.
Asked during a pre-draft videonconference on Thursday if he needed a player at No. 11 who would contribute immediate rather than one with long-term potential, general manager Dave Gettleman gave a simple answer:
“Yes. The Cliff note answer on it is yes,” Gettleman said. “It’s really hard to take a guy that at 11 that you’re betting on the potential.”
Gettleman compared the situation to what the NBA’s Boston Celtics did in 2019. They drafted Robert Williams, a player who is just this season beginning to give them valuable minutes.
Gettleman said he simply doesn’t have that luxury.
“In the NFL, I’ve got to be really cognizant of the coaches. They’re under the pressure to win all the time, every Sunday is a referendum on their skills as coaches,” Gettleman said. “You got to be really careful when you start taking guys that high that you love the physical skills, the potential but how long is it gonna take for it to show on the field. That’s kinda like the balance I have to get to.”
Left unsaid there is that this will be Gettleman’s fourth draft. The Giants are 15-33 in three seasons under his stewardship. If his free agent acquisitions don’t pan out, if his first couple of draft picks aren’t productive quickly, if the Giants don’t win more games in 2021, Gettleman probably doesn’t get to run a fifth draft as Giants GM.
What does that mean as a practical matter? Gettleman didn’t get into player-vs.-player or position-vs.-position specifics, but we can infer a few things.
- A plug-and-play every-down offensive lineman like Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater would be an immediately productive player.
- So, too, would Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. If the Giants are satisfied with the character piece of the Parsons’ puzzle he is a three-down linebacker who can cover, play the run and rush the passer. he can also line up on the edge and be a great, versatile chess piece for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
- If the Giants choose a cornerback, the production over potential mantra would lead you to think they would prefer Patrick Surtain to Jaycee Horn.
- You would have to think Alabama wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle would be in play because both could be immediate difference-makers.
- If the Giants go edge rusher, it’s not going to be a developmental player. It will have to be a guy they believe will play a high number of snaps and be productive quickly.
Here are some of the other takeaways from Thursday’s media availability with Gettleman and Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit.
About that 0 for 8 in trading back
Gettleman is asked every year about the fact that he has never traded back. Thursday, he made light of it by showing that he had heard what NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah had said about him on Wednesday.
“Jeremiah had a great line, NASCAR will have right turns before DG trades back,” Gettleman said. “Helluva line, had a good laugh.”
Gettleman insisted he isn’t against trading back. He is against feeling like he got ripped off.
“I’ve tried in the past. Honest, I’ve tried to trade bac,” Gettleman said, his voice rising into a high-pitched squeal. “It’s gonna be value, I’m not getting fleeced. I refuse to do it. If somebody wants to make a bad trade back, God bless him.
“We’ve had opportunities. I’ve tried. The other piece of this is sometimes you have a trade and the guy that the team is trading up for gets picked in front of you. We’ve had that happen to us.”
The news flash there is that Gettleman says he has had deals in place that simply haven’t come to fruition.
Collaboration? Who knew?
Asked about coach Joe Judge’s involvement in the draft process, Gettleman turned to a favorite subject. The idea that he does not dictate to coaches, rather tries to get them what they ask for.
“He’s very involved. He was very involved last year,” Gettleman said. “I have this crazy idea that we should collaborate, and this crazy idea that we should bring in players that fit coaches’ schemes. So, he’s obviously very involved.
“The best part is the direction and him and his staff explaining the type of player they’re looking for.”
Gettleman said that with Judge as head coach the biggest thing that has changed is the type of linebackers the Giants look for, which may be part of why they drafted four of them in the final two rounds a season ago.
“Linemen are linemen, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, back end guys, front end guys, they’re all the same,” Gettleman said. “It’s really the linebacker fit and the versatility we’re looking for at certain positions.
“You’d like to have a talented two-way go guy, a guy that can do a couple things … what it does is it gives the coordinator a lot of flexibility.”
Gettleman also said the fact that many of Judge’s assistant coaches were recently in the college ranks has been “very helpful.”
“ They’ve touched these guys, which we unfortunately haven’t been able to do as much. It’s quite helpful,” he said.
“Case by case” with opt out players
For players who opted out of the 2020 college football season and did not play in the Senior Bowl, it will have been roughly 20 months since they put pads on once the Giants get to training camp.
Gettleman said Thursday “there’s nothing I can compare this to” from his 30+ years in the personnel business. He added that the Giants will go “case by case” in making decisions about players who opted out.
“They made the decision to opt out. Who am I to judge?,” Gettleman said. “We ask them specifically tell me your story about the opt out, what’s your journey like? Are you glad you did it? You go through that process, but it’s hard. There are guys that were 19 years old last time they played football and oh by the way it’ll be 20 months between the last time they had pads on.
“Some of the opt outs kids did a great job. Showed up at their Pro Days and they were outstanding. Outstanding. A few of those opt out guys showed up looking like me. That wasn’t real good for them.”
Pettit said the Giants tried to attend Pro Day workouts for as many opt out players as possible.
“That was it, that was our opportunity,” Pettit said. “You’ve gotta do a lot of projecting. That’s what this business is … it’s hard, some of these guys haven’t had pads on in 20 months when we’re going to get ‘em. That’s going to be part of the piece that we have to take into consideration.”
Wide receiver at No. 11?
Would the Giants double dip, taking a receiver with their first pick even after giving a big contract to Kenny Golladay?
“You’re always looking to upgrade very position,” Gettleman said. “Doesn’t make a difference. It’s about value, how you’re building your team, what you’re looking to do and you can never have too many good players at one position.”
If the Giants select a receiver, it will most likely be DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle of Alabama. Both are smaller receivers, with Smith reportedly weighing only 166 pounds at the Alabama Pro Day.
Gettleman didn’t seem put off by that.
“Their college film suggests they’re very good players,” he said. “There are plenty of smaller guys that have been very successful in this league, just like there are plenty of huge guys that have been successful.”
Take the quarterbacks, please
Quarterbacks are almost certain to be the first three players picked. As many as five could go in the 10 picks before the Giants are on the clock. Gettleman wants everybody to take a quarterback.
“The more quarterbacks that go, the more players it pushes to us. It’s obviously helpful,” Gettleman said. “Frankly I’d like to see 10 quarterbacks go in front of us. The more quarterbacks that go the better it is for us.”
“Edge rushers are how you win.”
So, you’re wondering how serious the Giants are about finding an edge rusher in this draft class. That quote from Pettit should tell you that if they feel the value is right at 11, 42 or 76 the Giants will absolutely snag an edge rusher.
Here’s the full quote:
“I wouldn’t say it’s (11) too rich for edge rushers any year. Edge rushers are how you win. You win with guys who rush the passer. Where they are on the board, we’ll see how it shakes out, there’s a lot of factors to it. But I wouldn’t say there aren’t guys available.”
Pettit was also asked to expand on what he thought of the edge class:
“Good group. There’s a bunch of ‘em. There’s different ones, different types, which we like. There’s ones that fit our system. It’s obviously an important position we look to fill every year, not this year over any other year.
“If we decide to address, if one’s there at a certain time and he fits what we do we’ll take him.”