Waiting a year, for anything, is not for the impatient among us.
Many of the seeds sown this past weekend by Dave Gettleman will not begin to peek out of the dirt until the 2022 NFL Draft, as the Giants cagily gained extra picks in the first, third and fourth rounds. In a win-now season up ahead, the general manager maximized future assets, and that is the sign of a team-first executive.
Gettleman’s “batting average’’ — the term used by co-owner John Mara — must continue to rise for the 70-year old to return in 2022, when those extra draft picks — akin to pure gold — are utilized or bundled and dealt. The Giants are 5-11 and 4-12 and 6-10 in Gettleman’s three years. Everyone in the organization believes they got it right with Joe Judge as head coach. It is time to win more than they lose, and how third-year quarterback Daniel Jones navigates through his critical third season and how much of a true playoff contender the Giants actually are — not the farce of the 2020 NFL East slog — determines whether or not Gettleman gets to leave on his own terms.
Yet Gettleman collaborated with ownership, Judge and the rest of the front office and determined not making a pick at No. 11, and then not making a pick at No. 42, were the smart plays.
“To be honest with you, it makes it fun knowing that we have all these opportunities to take players next year,’’ Chris Pettit, the director of college scouting, said.
Yes, next year. Are the Giants coming off a 10-7 season? Or 11-6? Did they make it into the playoffs or never come close? Gettleman creating the 2022 bonanza shows his primary consideration is the long-term health of the franchise and not the short-term impact on his job security.
Not that the Giants are playing the long game here. They were more aggressive in free agency than anyone expected them to be, throwing money around as if it was Bitcoin stock. They think the players they selected — wide receiver Kadarius Toney and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari — after moving down in the draft are NFL-ready guys. Gettleman is not in self-preservation mode, but there is urgency coursing through the building to get the franchise where it needs to be.
“I felt we’ve had a very good roster-building season,’’ Gettleman said.
Now, as always, it comes down to the quality of the players. It is always about the players. Staying “true to our draft board’’ or, better still, “he was the highest-rated player on our board’’ is all fine and dandy, a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing. How effective and intelligent a team is in assembling its board is what separates the draft kings from the draft paupers.
Based on presumed value, the Giants may have pulled the greatest caper of the entire draft, getting Ojulari with the No. 50-overall pick, after trading back from No. 42. Are you kidding? A pass rusher with a solid first-round grade drops past the middle of the second round, the Giants get him and, with the trade down, they also procure an extra 2022 third-round pick via the Dolphins? Outrageously good.
But here’s the caveat: What is Ojulari? There were 49 players selected before he came off the board so we need to slow the roll on him being the next great sack artist. Is the arthritic condition in his knee going to limit him in any way? The Giants say no. Other teams say yes. Maybe Ojulari is the next great Nigerian menacer of quarterbacks for the Giants, following Osi Umenyiora, like Ojulari a second-round pick, taken 46th overall in 2003.
The immediate letdown when Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith were gone by No. 11 gave way to the possibility that the first trade down for Gettleman in 55 draft selections could bring back a haul and also Toney, a player the front office and coaching staff rate just a small notch below the two more heralded Alabama receivers. When the Giants are on the clock a year from now with the Bears’ first-round pick — could it be in the top 10? — the true impact of this maneuver will be felt and appreciated.
Is Gettleman all of a sudden Trader Dave, a sign Judge is now quietly and unofficially running the show? Of course not. The Giants do not pay general managers to serve as lackeys.
“From the day I got here we all worked together very well,’’ Judge said. “It’s been very open on both sides of the building. It’s just one building.’’
Gettleman: “I think that we have a great collaborative group going here. It’s not about me. It’s not about Joe. It’s about the New York Football Giants.’’
The general manager made bold moves for the present and his plan is to be around in the future, to reap the rewards of his handiwork.
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