Dave Gettleman has a history of uncovering quality offensive linemen who go undrafted. As pro personnel boss for the New York Giants, there was Rich Seubert. As GM with the Carolina Panthers, Andrew Norwell. As Giants GM, starting center Nick Gates. Backup Kyle Murphy, too.
At least one seasoned former NFL scout thinks Gettleman might have done it again by bringing Florida center Brett Heggie to the Giants this spring as an undrafted free agent.
Heggie is “an incredible center,” according to David Turner, a former scout and front office executive in the NFL, CFL and AFL and a one-time Gettleman intern during the GM’s first tour with the Giants.
“I watched a lot of Florida film. When I watched Brett Heggie in the middle he didn’t get pushed, he didn’t lose a crown, he didn’t lose an inch when people were coming at him,” Turner said on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. “I think Heggie is really going to be the center of the future, and he could be a right or left guard initially.
“Dave has in his past identified guys in the trenches and moved them forward into the starting lineup really quickly, and Heggie to me is one that can be the next guy in that line.”
Our Nick Falato isn’t quite as high on the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Heggie, though he does believe Heggie will at least earn a practice squad spot.
Dave Gettleman’s true colors
Scouting Academy Director Dan Hatman recently told me that he wasn’t really surprised by Gettleman’s first two trades down in nine NFL drafts even though he may not be around next season to capitalize on the trio of draft picks he acquired.
“He’s not someone that’s going to put himself above the team. That’s just never been my experience with him,” Hatman said. “He’s going to put whatever he thinks is best for the organization first, and whatever happens after that he’ll take it in stride because that was the decision he made.”
Turner, now founder and owner of Maverick Sports Consulting, was a Giants pro personnel intern reporting to Gettleman from 2003-2005. He seconded Hatman’s belief.
“If it was a typical Dave Gettleman draft where he didn’t move, where he was that statue figure like he likes to be, you would have wound up with players that might have been a little higher on draft boards grades, but by Dave doing what he did he really stayed true to the core principle that he taught all of us, which is sustained success is the goal,” Turner said.
“It’s not just about this year, but it’s about the next three years. Every move you make on the chess board you really have to think about the next three years as you move those chess pieces.”
Turner agreed with Hatman that it’s organization above self for the 70-year-old GM.
“I don’t think Dave ever does a job where he worries about tomorrow. As a goal of a GM it’s always about what’s best for the organization and every step you take, every piece you move it’s leaving an organization better than what you found it,” Turner said.
“If tomorrow the Maras walked down to his office and said Dave, you’re done he can leave that building saying it’s better than when I showed up. That’s what he always taught us as men, as people in the business, you always want to leave a place better than the way you found it.
“So many people guard their desk, they have that guard the desk mentality that they just want to keep that desk as long as possible any which way about it, which isn’t the right way to think of the organization. Thinking of the organization and using your values to make that every move you make, every decision you make is better for that organization whether you’re there or not is the only way to do the job with a clean conscience.”
About those trades
Turner was a big fan of both of the Giants trades back — from No. 11 to No. 20 in Round to select wide receiver Kadarius Toney and from No. 42 to No. 50 in Round 2 to select Azeez Ojulari.
“I was like that’s a core value move right there,” Turner said of the deal with Chicago. “He was able to really fleece the Bears to come up and get a quarterback. When he moved back again and picked up some more picks I was like, OK, that makes sense because he’s collecting some draft capital.”
About the picks
“I love some of these picks” Turner said. “I’ll be honest with you, the value as Dave always talks about you have to know your value at your pick and value in a player for that pick.”
Kadarius Toney (Round 1, No. 20)
“He was a player that if anybody listened to Mav Sports Take, my podcast, they heard me talk a lot about him during the fall. He was under-utilized at Florida. He’s a special player. He’s not as rare as Waddle is, but he is in a similar mold with his stop and start ability, his return game, He’s like Percy Harvin. This is an individual who I think adds a lot of nitrous to that room and pairs well with the rest of the Giants receiver room.”
What about any character concerns?
“For me, I don’t have a problem with Kadarius. I believe he’ll come up, he’ll showboat a little bit because that’s a little bit of his personality but I don’t believe off the field he’s going to find the lure of the city’s negative more appealing than being a Giants man,” Turner said.
“That’s something that I think a lot of people don’t understand. Being a Giants man is really important to the organization, and they don’t keep people around long that can’t buy into that. As long as Kadarius understands the Maras are serious about character and doing the right thing and Chris Pettit has had his candid conversation with him I think Kadarius will be just fine.”
Turner also isn’t buying that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will struggle to incorporate Toney’s unique skill set into the Giants offense. Turner said he has known Garrett and hsi family since Garrett was a backup quarterback for the Giants.
“I’ve been to their house, sat with their dad, Jack, and watched him talk football. I’ve known that family for a long time, my whole career. They know football so well and you give him a weapon like Toney I don’t think he’s ever going to have a problem figuring it out,” Turner said.
“I think he’ll be just fine throwing him some bubble screens, running some Z reverse stuff with him, giving him the short to intermediate routes where he can get the ball in his hands quick.
“Kadarius gives Jason a weapon that he hasn‘t had much in his career. So, therefore, traditionally, we don’t know how he’s going to use him, but by me knowing him and the family and their creative nature I really feel comfortable he’ll find ways to use him.”
Azeez Ojulari (Round 2, No. 50)
“Kid slipped down the board because he had a question on an injury, but he was the most polished pass rusher in this draft. And talk scheme fit, he can play the standup outside linebacker spot for ‘em. Man, it’s a great scheme fit. If he would have picked him at 20 I would have thought it was a great scheme fit, but to see him picked down at 50 I was like, wow, that’s a heckuva value for a scheme fit player that’s instant coffee, can step in Day 1 and potentially be s starter,” Turner said.
“If you only get two or three years out of this starter because the knee becomes too bad he can’t play anymore, man, you got him at 50 and you didn’t have to take him at 20. That’s a heckuva value pick right there.
“It was an incredible pickup.”
Elerson Smith (Round 4, No. 116)
“To get Elerson Smith back at 116, who again I think scheme-fit wise, man, playing him opposite Leonard Williams that really gives you two defensive ends with their hands in the dirt that are that are long, that are powerful, that are strong people. Elerson has a frame to put on another 10 pounds at least and he could at 265 at 6-7. He’ll look like Calais Campbell. In time I think people are going to really fall in love with that pick there.”
“These two (running back Gary Brightwell and cornerbacmk Rodarius Williams) I’m not going to site here and lie. I don’t really understand them,” Turner said.
While he suspected the Giants would go running back in Round 6, Turner thought it would be a different player.
“Brightwell physically fits a Dave Gettleman model of a running back, kinda like a Jonathan Stewart style back. Big, run downhill, be between the tackles kinda guy,” Turner said.
“Very good, solid young man. A good pick. I would have thought a different pick for the Giants at this point. When they did take him I understood it because he fits along the lines of what Dave teaches us running backs are supposed to look like.”
As for Williams, Turner said “that I didn’t understand at all” because of the depth the Giants already have in the secondary.
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