The Giants moved down, again, and selected a player who many scouts consider to be the best pass rusher in the NFL draft.
Dave “Trader’’ Gettleman and the Giants in the first two days of the draft conducted a master class in adding talent while maximizing future assets. They moved down Friday night, sliding from No. 42 down to No. 50 in a deal with the Dolphins. Despite the drop, the Giants got a player they targeted, adding Georgia linebacker Azeez Ojulari in what may turn out to be a coup.
Gettleman traded down in Round 1 to take wide receiver Kadarius Toney adding three draft picks, including the Bears’ first rounder in 2022. A day later, Gettleman added the Dolphins’ 2022 third round pick.
Ojulari is a prototype 3-4 outside linebacker and should be a perfect fit in coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, he is an edge rusher, using quickness and agility to get to the quarterback. He had 8.5 sacks this past season. The only reason he dropped out of the first round was there is some concern about a lingering knee issue. The Giants did their medical homework and decided Ojulari was worth the pick.
The Giants have two outside linebackers, Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, returning from injuries that ruined and shortened their 2021 seasons. Carter, like Ojulari, is a Georgia product. The Giants now have young edge options to add to a defense that, without much production from their outside pass rush, managed to get 40 sacks last season.
This is a fascinating turn of events for the Giants and Gettleman, who never traded down in eight previous drafts running the show for the Panthers and Giants. Gettleman is treating 2022 draft picks like gold, believing he will have far more information about the players in that class than he did this year, with COVID-19 restrictions making it difficult to gather the same quantity and quality of information normally accumulated during the lead-up to the draft.
Clearly, the Giants were not eying one particular player at No. 42, or else they would not have moved down eight spots. The early portion of the second round went to their liking, with players at positions they were not interested in taking — receiver, running back, safety — coming off the board in the first eight picks of the round.
The Giants have now gained three extra draft picks in 2022 — a first rounder, a third rounder and a fourth rounder.
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