One would think with the Cleveland Browns possessing the first and fourth overall selections in the upcoming NFL Draft that they were in the driver’s seat. Not so, I say. The team with the No. 2 overall pick, the New York Football Giants, actually have more capital in their hands with that single pick than the Browns do.
How, you ask? Simple. The Browns do not have a franchise quarterback and need a ton more talent on their roster to become competitive again. They also have only won once in the past two seasons. They have to bring in some franchise-defining players.
The Giants, even after coming off a dismal, disappointing 3-13 season have a solid core in place and lest us not forget, were 11-5 in 2016. The reasons they fell off a cliff last year have been identified. They incurred too many key injuries and their young head coach, Ben McAdoo was a poor manager who alienated players and installed a predictable, unimaginative and inflexible program that opponents deciphered with ease.
Throw in some miscalculations at the draft table and a slew of underachieving veterans and the quotient was too much for McAdoo to overcome. He made the fatal error of futzing with perhaps one of the only parts of the team that was stable in quarterback Eli Manning, which turned the fanbase against him and sealed his fate.
This spring, the Giants are in the midst of dusting themselves off, emerging from the rubble with a new GM in Dave Gettleman and a new head coach, Pat Shurmur. The organization is ready to get back to the business of playing serious football and restoring the franchise back to its glory days.
This offseason has given them the opportunity to retool their rancid offensive line. Gone are Bobby Hart, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and D.J. Fluker. In are Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh. They traded for LB Alec Ogletree and sent DE Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa Bay for a third-round draft pick. And that’s just for starters.
The meat of the overhaul will come in the draft and that is where this transformation gets very interesting for Giant fans. They have several options. In fact, they have more than several.
If the keep the pick…
There are three studs in this draft and none of them are quarterbacks. The Giants surely know this. It’s a long shot to think any of the four quarterbacks being touted at the top of the draft will have the success that Eli Manning has had here in New York. Sure, the Giants are getting up close looks at all of them but one has to think that Gettleman is smarter than that.
Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, DE Bradley Chubb of NC State and Notre Dame offensive lineman Quentin Nelson are all being labeled as ‘cant-miss’ prospects. If they took any one of those three players with the second overall pick, they could not be faulted. All have the marking of being All-Pro at the next level.
Taking a quarterback in this draft is a risky proposition. First off, which one would they take? All four have their pros and cons. The odds are there’s clunker in the bunch and as of right now, it’s too difficult to predict who’ll pan out and who won’t. Then, whoever they take would have to sit behind Manning for at least a year, maybe two. Then there is the possibility the Giants already have Manning’s successor on the roster in Davis Webb, who was selected in the third round of last year’s draft.
If they keep the pick, they would be best served to take one of three ‘can’t-miss’ players and never look back. Barkley gives them a huge boost out of the backfield. He is full service versatile back that checks all the literal and proverbial boxes on every scouting report. He would make their offense dynamic.
Nelson is a natural guard and that is where the Giants need a lot of help. The interior of their line was subpar to the point where they had little surge in the run game. His pass protection skills are also top notch. With all the negativity surrounding this unit the past few years, drafting Nelson would be another brick in the wall for Gettleman and fulfill his prophecy of adding “hog-mollies” to the team.
Chubb would do more than replace JPP on the defense. He would be a godsend. JPP was in decline, especially after the accident that took hold of his right hand, and was vastly overpaid by former GM Jerry Reese. Chubb can not only rush the passer, he can get him. Big difference there.
If they trade the pick….
It would take quite a bounty to move Gettleman out of the No. 2 spot. As GM of the Panthers he was not known to gamble but he’s already shown in his short stint in that position with the Giants that he’s capable of making bold strokes. He already has four picks in the top 69 but if he could get three more via a trade, he could mold the roster into something special. By doing that, he also conserves cap room for the upcoming seasons where he can augment his roster even further through free agency.
The issue here is, which teams have the capability to make a viable offer to Gettleman to bite at? There’s only a few and even less that need to make a splash at QB. The Jets used a lot of their capital to move up to No. 3 from No. 6. They forked over three second round picks along with flipping their first rounder with the Colts. The teams looking to get to No. 2 will have to pay more because they are coming from further down the draft order.
Buffalo has the most to offer: two first rounders, two second rounders and two third rounders in this draft alone. They just signed A.J. McCarron but he is simply a stopgap. They are in the market to move up and the Giants know it. It would likely take both first rounders (12 and 22), a second rounder and a third to shake Gettleman’s tree. If this happens, it would give the Giants seven picks in the first three rounds of the draft.
Other teams to keep an eye on: Denver, Arizona, Miami and yes, the Jets and Cleveland. Gettleman would not be averse to flipping picks with either of those two teams and still dealing with others afterward.
No matter which road Gettleman choses to go down, the odds are with him that the Giants will be a much-improved outfit after this draft is over and beyond.