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Drafting for the Giants’ future, literally

Seeking a better tomorrow while taking care of today for the Giants

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Free agency isn’t over by any means, but after the flurry of early signings the attention of NFL fans is already beginning to turn to the April NFL Draft. New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen executed two trade-downs in the 2022 draft but did not trade for any future draft picks. His predecessor, Dave Gettleman, did make a big trade that involved future draft picks, the effects of which are still not fully determined with the 2023 draft looming:

(That’s me, by the way.) Gettleman also obtained a 2023 Round 7 draft pick in the trade that brought Ben Bredeson to the Giants. So the No. 209 and No. 240 picks that Schoen has to work with in this year’s draft can ultimately be traced to Gettleman, and the 2022 selections of Evan Neal and Daniel Bellinger can also.

The Giants have been a talent-poor team for years, so it is natural that Schoen’s attention in 2022 was on acquiring extra picks in that year’s draft, and similarly for this year’s draft, even though he gave up one of them in the Darren Waller trade.

At some point, though, a GM should become more forward-looking as his team’s talent improves. No one is better at that than the Eagles’ Howie Roseman. A GM can be forward-looking in several ways:

One is by drafting not to fill current holes but in anticipation of future needs. The Philly Cover Corner has an interesting piece showing how many of Roseman’s picks have not been what mock drafters anticipated but were made with the future in mind. A team with a future Hall of Fame center uses a second-round pick in 2022 on a center (Landon Dickerson) and the Eagles stash Dickerson at guard until Jason Kelce retires. A team with probably the best defensive line in football, but one that is aging, uses its 2022 first round pick on an interior defensive lineman, Jordan Davis. And so on.

This is not just a “best player available” strategy. It’s part of his overall philosophy of perpetuating strength at positions that matter most.

The other way Roseman looks ahead is by getting draft picks in future years in trades for players. His masterstroke was the 2021 Carson Wentz trade to the Indianapolis Colts, which via subsequent trades with the New Orleans Saints, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Detroit Lions wound up with this final scorecard:

Courtesy of CBS Sports

Yes, the Eagles got DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown while losing no player currently of consequence and still have a first rounder and a second rounder yet to come. This year Philly has only six picks, but two of them are first rounders. Wanna bet Howie trades one of them and gets more future picks?

Imitation is the sincerest form of...

“Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war; and this lesson saves their children, their homes, and their properties.” - Aristophanes, The Birds

Well, the NFL draft isn’t quite that important, although you wouldn’t know that from Giants Twitter. But Joe Schoen can learn something from Howie Roseman’s success. He’s not in the same position as Howie - the Giants still have holes to fill at a number of positions, so he has to be looking at improving the team this year.

But the draft is a crapshoot. No matter how much we all fall in full bloom love with certain prospects, history tells us that we’re wrong more often than right. So you’d like to have as many bites at the apple as possible, never mind the draft capital you can trade to acquire assets.

Schoen has 11 picks in the 2023 draft mostly because of Gettleman (albeit for reasons he wouldn’t want to replicate). The numerous Giants free agents Schoen had to let leave because of the dismal 2022 salary cap situation bequeathed to him by Gettleman, combined with the two free agents of note he was able to sign (Mark Glowinski and Tyrod Taylor), gave the Giants two compensatory picks in the 2023 draft. The Kadarius Toney trade, a delayed result of Gettleman’s 2021 trade-down, provided two 2023 picks, one given up for Darren Waller and the other (sixth round) still in Schoen’s hands. The seventh rounder Gettleman got in the trade for Bredeson brings the 2023 total to 11.

But in 2024, all the Giants have at the moment is their standard seven draft picks, one in each round. The flurry of free agent signings this past week, combined with the losses of only Nick Gates and Julian Love, make it unlikely that the Giants will get any comp picks in 2024. Let’s see if we can help Joe Schoen out and get him some future extra picks.

Rules of engagement

I’ll try to put this into practice with a mock draft. When I do mock drafts, I almost always turn down trades that offer a future draft pick to entice me to trade down, because I am always interested in players to draft now. For this piece I will:

  • Refuse any trade down that does not include a future pick.
  • Reserve the right to turn down any proposed trade.
  • Try to draft players in Rounds 1, 2, and 3 that fill what I regard as the Giants’ most urgent needs (CB, WR, C) if possible without severely compromising player quality.
  • Use the Fitzgerald-Spielberger trade value chart from Over The Cap to assess the value of any proposed trade. This chart uses actual historical second contract average per year numbers as a guide to what the NFL unwitttingly has concluded is the financial value of the players they drafted in retrospect. In practice the F-S chart is a lot flatter than the traditional Jimmy Johnson chart that vastly overvalues very high draft picks.
  • The F-S chart just assigns a value to each pick and says nothing about the value of a trade for a future pick. The rule of thumb is that a future pick in a given round is equal to the same pick one round lower in the current draft. I’m not aware of any way to test that assumption, so I’ll just go with it in sizing up trades in that way.
  • I will try not to trade too far down from present draft positions.

We’ll have a go at this with three different simulators.

Pro Football Network simulator

The PFN simulator offered two trades for No. 25. The Colts asked for No. 25 + No. 128 (1910 F-S trade value points) and offered No. 35 + No. 106 + Indy’s Round 2 2024 pick (2697 points). That’s outstanding, a gain of 787 points, equivalent to the No. 79 pick. The Chiefs asked for No. 25 + No. 209 (1662 points) and offered No. 31 + KC’s Round 2 (1952). That’s good value too but only a 290 point net gain. I’ll take Indy’s pick, more confident that the 2023 Colts will be something like the dumpster fire they were in 2022 than that the 2023 Chiefs will earn a top 10 pick in 2024.

NFL Combine
Zay Flowers
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It’s tough to give up No. 25. Players I lost out on that the Giants might consider include Kelee Ringo, Jalin Hyatt, and Nolan Smith. But at No. 35 I got WR Zay Flowers.

Now in Round 2 the Browns are asking for the Giants’ No. 57 pick (951 F-S points) and offering No. 98 + Cleveland’s 2024 Round 2 pick (1481 points). The net gain of 530 points is only equivalent to the No. 131 pick. Comp picks mess up the counting, but in effect they’re asking for a late 2 and offering an early 4 and an early 5. I’ll pass. At No. 57 I take Deonte Banks instead. (I didn’t say these simulators are realistic, no way Banks lasts that long.)

For the record when I get to the Giants’ No. 89 pick, C Luke Wypler is still there and I grab him. (Cleveland still wants to tango but this time only a 2-for-2 exchange of picks, which I refuse.) So I’ve satisfied my three biggest draft needs and now Joe Schoen will have eight picks in 2024 including two in Round 2:

Courtesy of Pro Football Network

Pro Football Focus simulator

PFF’s mock draft simulator allows the user to construct their own trades much more easily than PFN’s does. The downside is that the trades that have a reasonable chance of being accepted tend to be closer to even value for the trading partners.

The Steelers were interested in trading with me. They agreed to a trade in which I gave up the Giants’ No. 25 and No. 128 (1910 F-S points) in return for their No. 32 (the Bears’ pick they got in the Chase Claypool trade) + the Steelers’ 2024 Round 2 pick (2017 points). That’s not as good as I was able to do with the Colts in the PFN simulator, but it was the only trade offered that didn’t have the Giants moving far down.

NFL Combine
Kelee Ringo
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

By trading down I passed on Deonte Banks, chosen by the Steelers at No. 25 (ouch), as well as Nolan Smith, Antonio Johnson, Zay Flowers, and Emmanuel Forbes. Not to worry. At No. 32 I selected cornerback Kelee Ringo.

At No. 57 I find myself with a cornucopia of potential trade partners. I trade No. 57 + No. 208 (the other pick KC gave the Giants for Toney) to the Eagles for their No. 62 + their 2024 Round 3 pick. By doing so I missed out on Luke Musgrave, Jaelyn Duncan, Daiyan Henley, Siaki Ika, and Sydney Brown. I select center Joe Tippmann (I also could have had Luke Wypler). But I’m starting to worry about wide receiver.

At No. 89 (725 F-S points) I propose to trade down to No. 91 with Buffalo, getting their 2024 Round 4 pick in return (1158 points). Brandon Beane must really want someone on the board, or else he just wants to do his old buddy Joe Schoen a solid, because he accepts the trade. I miss out on Garrett Williams (OK because I already have Ringo) and Jammie Robinson (might have been the pick since the Giants now need a safety). But I select wide receiver Tyler Scott (I could also have had Michael Wilson or A.T. Perry, among others).

In the end I have once again met my three biggest draft needs, although it’s not clear that Tyler Scott has WR1 potential. And I now have three extra 2024 draft picks, giving the Giants 11 in all and two each in Rounds 2, 3, and 4:

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus

NFL Mock Draft Database simulator

The Rams approach me, offering their No. 36 + No. 69 + No. 171 + No. 182 + their 2024 Round 3 and Round 5 picks (3860 F-S points) for the Giants’ No. 25 (1369 points). It doesn’t sound plausible but who am I to question Les Snead?

NFL Combine
John Micxhael Schmitz
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

By moving down 11 slots I have missed out on Nolan Smith, Zay Flowers, O’Cyrus Torrence, Jalin Hyatt, and Kelee Ringo, among others. All my favorite (= first round caliber) wide receivers and CBs are gone. I decide to go offensive line and draft center John Michael Schmitz with the No. 36 pick. At No. 57 I select cornerback D.J. Turner, whose potential in man coverage has recently been touted by Chris Pflum.

At No. 69 Green Bay, flush with Jets’ draft picks from the Aaron Rodgers trade, offers me No. 78, No. 170, and their 2024 Round 4. It’s tempting but I’m already pretty full from the Rams’ haul I got, so I decline. I’m looking for a wide receiver, and Tyler Scott, Cedric Tillman, and Kayshon Boutte are all sitting there. It’s a free pick, so what the heck, I’m taking a flier on the substantial upside of Kayshon Boutte, who was also recently profiled by Chris.

In the end, Scott (No. 108) and Tillman (No. 109) didn’t go until much later, so I probably could have accepted the Packers’ offer and gotten another 2024 pick. Marvin Mims was taken at No. 76. Finally, by No. 89 I’ve satisfied all three of my top draft needs. The Giants may be in the market for a safety with Julian Love gone, so let’s go with J.L. Skinner.

So in the end, I’ve gotten an extra Day 2 and two extra Day 3 picks, plus I’ve given Joe Schoen 10 picks in the 2024 draft including two Round 3s and two Round 5s.

Courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database

Could these things really happen?

There is no guarantee that trades proposed and accepted by a mock simulator reflect the real world (if you want to call the NFL draft the real world). But we can do a test. In 2021 Dave Gettleman traded the No. 11 pick to Chicago for the No. 20 and No. 164 picks, plus the Bears’ Round 1 and Round 4 picks in 2022. Do mock simulators create trades like that?

I selected the Tennessee Titans, who have the No. 11 pick this year, in the PFN simulator. When it reached the Titans’ pick, it offered three trades, two of which included picks in the 2024 draft:

Courtesy of Pro Football Network

In both cases the Titans would get a 2024 Round 1 pick for moving down further than the Giants actually did in 2021. In both cases they got one additional pick higher in the draft than the No. 164 the Giants actually got. But in both cases they only got one future pick, and in one case they had to give up an additional 2021 pick. The actual Giants-Bears trade seems to be at least as good as these if not better.

In the PFF simulator I found a willing trading partner for the Titans in the Eagles (talk about art imitating life):

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus

In this case the trade-down is all the way down to the No. 30 pick, and the Titans also get the No. 94 pick in the current draft and first and fourth round picks in 2024. This is pretty close to the parameters of the Giants-Bears trade since the lower Round 1 pick this year is partly offset by the higher later round pick. But unless you think the Eagles are going to finish with a 4-13 record and the No. 7 pick next year, the 2024 draft haul in this trade is weaker than what the Giants got.

The NFL Mock Draft Database simulator offered two trade-downs involving future picks that were somewhat similar to the Giants-Bears trade:

Courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database

Both trades involved a bit less of a trade-down in the current draft, but one did not include an extra pick in the current draft and neither offered a Round 1 pick in 2024 as the Giants received.

These examples suggest that whatever the quirks of the mock draft simulators, they are doing something not too far from reality much of the time when it comes to trades. This is not a good year for the Giants to try to get an extra Round 1 pick in 2024, because having the No. 25 pick to work with appears to rule that out. But an additional 2024 Round 2 pick is clearly a possibility, as are additional picks in multiple rounds next year.

Many Giants fans lament Gettleman passing on Micah Parsons or Rashawn Slater to make the trade with the Bears. But as the tweet at the top of this article indicates, the Giants now have Evan Neal, Daniel Bellinger, and Darren Waller as the fruits of that trade, with a sixth-round pick yet to come and the possibility that the trade-up for Aaron Robinson will yield a significant contributor to the secondary.

Maybe Evan Neal will never be the player his pedigree suggested. Maybe Daniel Bellinger will only be an ordinary tight end. Maybe Darren Waller will never again be the player he was in 2020. Those are the risks you take in any trade. Time will tell. But if Schoen is as forward-looking as he seems to be, don’t be surprised if he risks a little bit of present capital to build a sustainable draft future for the Giants.