In his draft preparation, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has showcased better blocking than his new team has displayed over the past several seasons.
Of course, Gettleman wasn’t going to come out and present the Giants draft board on Thursday afternoon, when he met with reporters for the last time before next week’s NFL Draft . Faced with the standard draft fare, Gettleman left the Giants strategy as ambiguous as when he began speaking, perhaps even more so.
“You can’t close your mind. You don’t know what is going to happen,” Gettleman said of the Giants’ draft strategy. “when you’re picking this high, if you make a mistake, you’re done. We talk that when you miss on a quarterback, you really hurt the franchise for probably five years. It’s a five-year mistake. Yeah, it’s a big decision, but as long as you’ve done your homework and turned all the rocks over, you will come to the right answer. You ask the right questions and you will get the right answers.”
Selecting second in the draft, the highest position they’ve been in since taking Lawrence Taylor in 1981, speculation has been rampant throughout the football world on what the Giants will do in such unchartered territory. For every report that believes the drafting of Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is a certainty, there is another that counters with the idea of taking a quarterback. Yet others say the Giants have engaged in trade talks, putting the second pick on the market with teams like Buffalo and Denver.
Gettleman acknowledged all scenarios on Thursday, playing coy when presented with each scenario. When asked about the trend of smokescreens and fake news, Gettleman feigned ignorance, remarking how it’s not in his nature to deceive, inadvertent as it may be.
“When I was a little kid, every time I lied, I got caught and when I was seven years old, my father kicked my butt and I haven’t lied since then,” Gettleman recalled. “To me it’s silly, but that’s me.”
The general manager was perhaps his liveliest when discussing Barkley, whose New York drafting was called “inevitable” by ESPN’s Todd McShay. Time will only tell if it’s all part of a game of duplicity played by Gettleman, but he took the time to praise Barkley’s prowess.
“I’m not going to lie. He’s a tremendous talent,” Gettleman praised “You put the film on of a defensive guy and if they’re playing Penn State, then I’m watching Saquon. He’s one of those guys that my mother could have scouted. She could have figured that one out.”
With the Giants run game mostly dormant over the past decade, having failed to showcase a 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012, Gettleman was quickly to expound on the value of a running back in today’s pass-happy NFL world. One of his final moves as Carolina’s general manager was to draft Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall selection. Though Gettleman wasn’t there to reap the benefits of McCaffrey’s explosiveness, his 1,086 yards of offense helped the Panthers return to the playoffs.
“I think that the devaluing of the running back is really a myth,” Gettleman explained. “If you have a great running back, he immediately makes your quarterback better, your offensive line better and your passing game. So I don’t believe in it. It’s how you evaluate the players, how we value them, how we rate them and then you go on from there.”
Speaking of the quarterback class, featuring polarizing throwers like Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield, Gettleman drew comparisons both historic and appetizing.
“It’s a really a neat group to evaluate because they are all different players. With the second pick, I’m sitting at Ben and Jerry’s and I’ve got a lot of flavors to look at and they’re all different,” he said. While he fell short of matching the throwing class head-to-head with those from 1983 and 2004, he never fully ruled out the possibility. “If you think about all the quarterbacks that you’ve seen, who of them have made everybody better? That’s what you’re looking for. Does he make everybody around him better? That’s what you’re looking for.”
On the topic of a trade, Gettleman acknowledged that in five drafts with the Panthers, he never made a single trade, saying no deal was “meaningful” enough to pull the trigger. However, he hinted he was more open to the possibility in his new position.
“We’ve had calls. I’ll admit to that,” Gettleman said, refusing to put numbers of the odds. “It depends on what’s on the board and who is still on the board. I’m open to it. Listen, you have to be open to everything. You have to listen. You can’t be afraid of conversation. You have to be open.”
The only things Gettleman that Gettleman truly opened on were the subject of a handful of Giants from the previous season, one of whom, receiver Brandon Marshall, is no longer with the team.
While brief, Gettleman quickly confirmed both the cut and the reason for it, citing a “failed physical”. He quickly reverted back to espionage mode when followed-up with a question about free agent Dez Bryant, as the former Dallas Cowboy has been public with his New York desires. In terms of a potential Bryant peace offering, Gettleman only said “I have interest in everybody. We do our film work and you never know.”
In the midst of the quarterback discussing, Gettleman also spoke of the quarterbacks he currently has on the roster now. Confident that New York staple Eli Manning has “a lot of arm left”, Gettleman spoke more in detail on how important the rest of the month will be for Davis Webb, the Giants’ third round selection from last year’s draft. While Gettleman said that Webb can’t shift the Giants’ board, he talked about the great opportunity in store for Webb next week, an opportunity that will end mere hours before the Giants make their historic first-round pick.
“Nothing is going to totally change the top of the board,” Gettleman explained. “Seeing Davis next week is going to be fun for us because he’s a great kid, he works his fanny off, he has been following Eli (Manning) around like a little puppy dog since he walked in the door and it will be a neat opportunity to see him play. Yeah, sure, everything affects the board. I’d be lying if I said no, but at the end of the day, I’m looking forward to it.”
The opportunity comes in the form of the Giants’ next big offseason landmark, a voluntary minicamp held from April 24-26.