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‘Things I think’: Dave Gettleman gets “Kudos” for his first-ever trade down

GM explains how the trade back to No. 20 came about

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

“I’m not getting fleeced.”

That was New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman talking last week about one of the many reasons he had never made a trade down in eight previous draft with as a GM with the Giants or Carolina Panthers.

When Gettleman finally made a trade down Thursday night in his ninth draft as a GM, he definitely did not get fleeced.

After watching the four players presumably at the top of the Giants’ board, wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith and cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn, go in the first 10 picks, Gettleman swapped places to No. 20 with the quarterback-hungry Chicago Bears.

The Bears got their quarterback of the future, Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

The Giants got an outstanding return that should set them up well heading into what is expected to be a deep, talent-rich 2022 draft.

Here is what the Giants got:

Round 1 (No. 20)
Round 5 (164th overall)
2022 first-round pick
2022 fourth-round pick

That’s impressive.

Yes, it was a bummer to watch the hated Eagles twist the knife on the Giants, or at least think they had done so, by jumping New York to grab the Slim Reaper, Devonta Smith. There will be those who say Howie Roseman and the Eagles outsmarted Gettleman to get Smith.

I’m not one of them. Smith was never a primary target for me, though he may have been for the Giants. With only six picks in this draft, Gettleman really couldn’t move up. Even if he wanted to. He had to sit back, see how things unfolded and be willing to move back depending how things went. He was.

In the end, it isn’t hard to argue that this was an even better outcome for the Giants than ending up with the Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver.

In a late night videoconference with New York media Gettleman seemed matter-of-fact about a move that was hardly business as usual for him, or for the Giants.

“So … I made a trade back. Obviously it was too good an opportunity. It added too much value,” Gettleman said. “And we felt comfortable with who would be available in that slot. So we made it!”

How the trade happened

The Giants and Bears laid the ground work for this move long before Howie Roseman and the Eagles swooped in to select Smith.

Gettleman said he had conversations prior to the draft with Bears general manager Ryan Pace and Pace had told him Chicago was “very interested” in moving up. The two spoke again Thursday afternoon, and once more Gettleman said “around the seventh pick” of Round 1.

Gettleman watched the first 10 picks and when the Eagles made their move “we decided to trade back at that point.”

Looking ahead

Draft analysts have already said that next year’s draft class, due in large part to so many draft-eligible players gaining an extra year of college eligibility and choosing to return to school due to the pandemic, should be exceptionally strong.

The move down, which gives the Giants two first-round and two fourth-round picks in that draft, positions the Giants to take full advantage of that deep draft. it’s a long-range, forward-thinking move that has not exactly been standard operating procedure for the Giants.

Gettleman said adding the 2022 first-round pick was “very important.”

The Giants “had really talked this through” as a group before the draft, Gettleman said.

“We knew what we wanted, we knew where we wanted to go and we knew at which point we would consider a trade back, and that’s where you get the other piece of it where we’re calling teams behind us,” Gettleman said. “It was a great group effort. We all felt very together on the decision, and we made it.”

Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit felt the Giants made an “excellent trade.”

“You let the board come to you, and I think that trade was an excellent trade to get assets for us for the future,” Pettit said. “You know, we get another first round player, which is potentially another first round starter. That’s an excellent, excellent opportunity for us. We had to take advantage of that.”

How the Giants decided on Toney

Toney was considered by many to be just outside the Ja’Marr Chase-Jaylen Waddle-DeVonta Smith group. The Giants made the 5-foot-11, 193-pound Toney, who ran a 4.37 40-yard dash, the fourth receiver selected.

Coach Joe Judge admitted Thursday night that he is “very particular” about the kind of people he wants in the organization.

Pettit said the Giants did extensive work on Toney, who was suspended by Florida during the 2018 season, including a lengthy face-to-face conversation at the Senior Bowl.

“We got to spend a lot of time with him. Really great to meet him and get that face-to-face at that point in the scouting process,” Pettit said. “Feel really good about him.

“We were all tired ... it was late in the night, we were tired, we were talking through plexiglass, everyone had masks on and he brought energy at that point. We loved that. He brought energy to the room, to the conversation, was easy to talk to, was open and honest, and we loved everything about that conversation.

“If there was a concern with him he wouldn’t have been on our board,. We thoroughly vetted him.”

Final thoughts

There is no way to know right now how good a player Toney will be, or what the Giants will be able to do next year with the collected assets. This, though, was impressive work.

In 2016, when the Giants lost out on chances to draft their targeted players — Leonard Floyd and Jack Conklin — they really didn’t have a backup plan. They couldn’t quickly put together a trade, selected Eli Apple, GM Jerry Reese seemed to have a hard time explaining why Apple was the pick, then it didn’t work out.

Here, Gettleman and the Giants were prepared and executed a move that should be beneficial to the franchise in the long run.

“Kudos” for that.