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“I want to get it right:” Takeaways from Giants GM Joe Schoen’s pre-draft press conference

With the finish line in sight, Schoen talks draft preparation, strategy

Syndication: The Record
Joe Schoen
Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Next Thursday, New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen will run an NFL team’s draft room for the first time. He’s been in the league for more than 20 years and been in the draft room many times, but this time it will be his show.

He said Wednesday he only knows a couple of things. He will be up early, and he won’t be squeezing in a round of golf — something he has done on other draft days when his work was already done.

“Probably a long day. I’ll probably get up, just come in here. In a temporary apartment right now, so probably not going to sit there. Probably too anxious to golf,” a relaxed Schoen said. “Probably come in, get a workout in, make some phone calls, call around the league, call other general managers, see if you can get any information on what’s going on in front of you. Again, probably take some calls if people are calling or looking to move up.

“Yeah, it will be exciting. Something you dream about. For that day to finally be here, it will be really cool.”

What else did we learn from the Giants’ rookie GM with the draft now just a week away? Let’s go through some of the takeaways.

7 for 7?

The Giants have the fifth and seventh picks in Round 1. At the Combine, Schoen said that he wants to enter the draft knowing he has seven players he would be happy to choose in those first seven picks.

I asked him on Wednesday if he is there yet.

“We’re close. We’re close. We’re going to get with the coaches. I know Dabes [Brian Daboll] mentioned that earlier. The scouts just left on Tuesday. We had some meetings with them. We kind of set the board how we saw things. We met with the coaches, got their rankings, how they see things,” Schoen said. “There’s a few players where we’re going to shut the door, lock it, have knock-down, drag-outs. When we come out, we’re going to make the best decision for the Giants.

“There’s not a lot of players where there’s a big separation in terms of how we see them.”

Schoen said the Giants want to be prepared not only for picks at 5 and 7, but for trade-down scenarios.

“Do I have seven right now? Yeah, as a personnel staff, we actually did like a 1 through 100 vertically as an exercise,” Schoen said. “We’re going to get with the coaches to make sure we’re onboard, not just seven, if there’s a move-back scenario, whatever that is, do we have 10, 15, 20 players we like, make sure we get them in the right order as football players.”

Panther puzzle

If you’re telepathic, you might want to call the Giants offices. The Carolina Panthers are at No. 6 in the draft order, and Schoen would love to know what Carolina GM Scott Fitterer is going to do.

Will he take a quarterback? Swing a trade? Try to snitch one of the offensive tackles Schoen and the Giants are likely interested in?

“I’ve thought about that several times. What are they doing, trying to figure out what position they might go. That will make a difference in what you do,” Schoen said.

“If you’re sitting there at five, there’s somebody you really like, there’s two other players that may be at the same position you like as well, or just two players in general that you’re happy with regardless of position, that can also factor into who you take at number five.

“If you have a crystal ball, I’d love to see it. We’re going through several of those scenarios, if they’re there, how we’re going to go through, make the pick.”

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Schoen was asked about the importance of adding offensive line talent in the draft. He acknowledged the need to do that, but made a need/value correlation Giants fans have heard before from a former GM who shall not be named. Albeit, Schoen did so in an interesting way.

“Dabes said it earlier, too, the offensive line is important. There’s several other positions that are important for us to go compete. I understand, again, I wasn’t here in the past. I’m not sure exactly everything that went on. I’m privy to recently where the offensive line was. We tried through free agency with the resources we have to upgrade the offensive line the best we can. That will continue through the draft,” Schoen said.

“Again, if you want to build it up on both sides of the ball, build it up front. Offensive line, that’s very important.”

Now, about those mirrors.

“To get our best version of Saquon, Daniel, the entire offense, to your point, that’s going to be very important to get that right, whether it’s running the ball or pass protection. That will definitely be a priority,” Schoen said.

“It’s just the need, the value, where that is. You just got to make sure it mirrors up or you’re going to be in the same boat. If you try to force it, it’s not the right value, we’re sitting up here next year saying the same thing. We needed a guard, so we reached for him, but the value wasn’t right.

“You have to make sure when those two meet, they mirror each other, that’s when you’re going to make the best decisions.”

In other words, don’t reach for a need when your grades say there are better players on the board.

Goin’ fishin’

Schoen said he is “perfectly fine” sitting at 5 and 7 and making those picks in Round 1. He did say, though, that teams have called “just fishing around” to see if the Giants would be willing to move one of those picks.

“If it makes sense, something that blows your doors off, then you think about it if somebody offers something. Nobody’s offered anything, hard offer, right now,” Schoen said.

“To me, it really wouldn’t make sense right now to do anything, again, unless it blew the doors off, something you can’t turn down.”

Schoen said he expects to begin getting serious inquiries next week.

“I think a lot of it right now, same as me, people are starting to come out of meetings, stepping back, meeting with their coaches. Now you kind of get into the planning part of it. If it’s a team behind us, they want to move up, how can we get there, who can we call. Some exploratory calls typically will happen now. By Monday, you’ll find out who is serious. Who is Jacksonville going to take, Detroit, all those rumors,” Schoen said.

“It will pick up steam next week, there will be more serious conversations if there are teams that are legit serious thinking about coming up.”

Factors in moving back

Schoen, echoing something else we have heard before, said Wednesday that you need to be careful when you move back that you don’t outsmart yourself.

“I’ve been there before. You get greedy, let’s move back. That guy is gone. Are you going to sleep better at night knowing you got an extra sixth round pick, you move back four spots, but you lose the guy you want, or let’s just take the guy and not be greedy. You play through all those situations,” Schoen said.

“Again, that’s why sometimes I’ll do a vertical board, how many players are available. If we move back X amount of spots, are we going to get one of these five guys? It makes sense, yes, plus you get an extra pick.”

Schoen said the salary cap, even with the Giants’ current cap crunch, won’t be a factor.

“If we do move back, there is a cost savings of doing that. That is not going to drive our decision,” Schoen said. “We are not going to pass up on a good player, especially in the draft, for a cost savings. That’s not going to be the genesis of that decision.”

Setting the foundation

Schoen has two picks in the top 10 and nine overall at his disposal. He knows what this draft can mean for the future of the franchise he has been handed the keys to.

“very important. Integral. For Brian and I, it’s our first two picks as New York Giant head coach and general manager. In terms of foundational pieces, in terms of being good players, the type of people we want, it’s very important,” Schoen said.

“I want to get it right.”