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What if Joe Schoen had accepted the Bills’ Round 1 trade proposal?

Buffalo tried to trade up from No. 27 to No. 25

NFL: Combine
Joe Schoen
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Following months of mock drafts and speculation, the NFL Draft itself can also often become a game of “what if?”

Teams see players come off the board just before they go on the board and lament how close they got. Fans demand answers to why their general manager traded up or traded back, thinking what could have been otherwise.

In the case of the New York Giants, an actual trade proposal has been reported following the draft. Bills general manager Brandon Beane confirmed that he tried to trade up to the Giants’ pick No. 25 to take tight end Dalton Kincaid. Buffalo had the 27th pick, and Joe Schoen was previously Beane’s assistant GM there.

This is an interesting what-if scenario to think about, though: what if, instead of trading up, Schoen had traded back two spots to pick No. 27?

Who could they have selected?

If the Giants had traded down to pick No. 27, there’s a chance that Dallas, not New York, would have been the team to trade up with Jacksonville. The Cowboys clearly wanted Kincaid, but they also likely knew that Buffalo coveted him.

Still, the Giants traded up to No. 24 largely because they did not want the Cowboys (or any other team) to leapfrog them for Deonte Banks. That leaves the possibility that Banks would have been off the board had they traded back.

If the Cowboys had, indeed, selected Kincaid, it’s hard to predict what Buffalo would have done. Would they have taken Michael Mayer, who was considered by many to be the top tight end in the draft but ultimately slid into the second round, where the Raiders traded up for him at No. 35? Would the Bills have gone in a different direction?

Either way, in that scenario, Jacksonville is at pick 26. Presumably, they would have still taken tackle Anton Harrison, leaving Banks on the board at No. 27. But if Dallas took Banks at No. 26 rather than trading up, it’s possible the Giants would have taken Joey Porter Jr., considered the next cornerback on the board.

Schoen and Brian Daboll clearly preferred Banks significantly over Porter considering that they traded up despite being guaranteed one of the two corners. Still, it seems apparent that corner was the Giants’ No. 1 priority at that spot once the run on receivers hit in the early 20s.

Extra draft capital

If Schoen had traded back, he would have picked up an extra selection (or two) rather than giving up two picks. Considering that the Giants gave up picks 160 and 240 to move up one slot, Buffalo would have likely given up something in that ballpark for the move, maybe just the fifth-rounder and not also the seventh.

Although Schoen was aggressive in this draft, having an extra fifth-rounder could have allowed him to add more depth to their defensive line or tight end room. It’s not as if fifth-round picks are usually Day 1 starters, but having more bites at the apple is considered a good thing.

Should Schoen have done it?

Considering the players that the teams in front of the Giants appeared to want the most, it’s possible that Schoen did not need to move up to get Banks. Maybe he could have even moved back and still ended up with his guy.

However, with the aggressive defense that Wink Martindale employs, he needs press cornerbacks. The Giants had a strong preference for Banks over Porter Jr. They did what they needed to do to secure their guy.

It’s far better to have given up extra late-round picks to get the player you want rather than to be left holding the bag. That’s what happened to the Cowboys, who picked Mazi Smith in a seemingly panic-driven move after the Bills leapfrogged them for Kincaid.

The NFL Draft is ultimately a game of cat-and-mouse. With all the lies and disinformation out there about teams’ draft boards and preferences, it’s very difficult to know in advance what any given team is going to do. Even afterward, we can only try to read between the lines and guess if a team is telling the truth about their board or not.

In this case, Schoen decided to ensure that he got his guy rather than taking a gamble. Interestingly, he did the opposite in the second round, standing pat rather than trading up to secure John Michael Schmitz. Imagine if a different team between No. 43 and 57 had taken Schmitz; what would Giants fans be saying?

Maybe the Giants liked a different center almost as much as they did Schmitz, and that’s why they chose to stay put, unlike with Banks. That’s the cost-benefit analysis in the draft.

Ultimately, how Banks plays, especially compared to Porter Jr., will determine whether Schoen was retroactively “right” to be aggressive rather than trading back. At the time of the move, though, it made sense considering the Giants’ scheme preferences and their evaluation of the player.

Bookmark this article for a reset in a couple of years.