Dave Gettleman was absolutely right when he lamented the fact we’re living in an “instant gratification world” during his conference call on Monday. There’s a rush to judge everything, a demand for an immediate payoff. Everyone wants to be first with a knee-jerk reaction or a juvenile social media take.
And so it was with the Giants’ trade of Odell Beckham Jr. and, really, their entire offseason. Gettleman didn’t get nearly enough for his star, some screamed. He has no plan, yelled others. Tweet by tweet, it was clear the world of keyboard warriors believed he didn’t have a clue.
Just one question: How can any of them know for sure?
Because we won’t know if Gettleman is a prince or a clown until long after this upcoming NFL draft.
“You are not going to be able to give a Roman Coliseum thumb up or thumb down on this trade for a little bit,” Gettleman said on a conference call with the media on Monday. “We have to see how Jabrill (Peppers) develops, and we have to see who this No. 1 is, who this No. 3 is. You guys will obviously follow Odell’s career and we will go from there. In two or three years, you guys will have your opinions like you do now.”
It’s easy to forget when watching the Rams spend their way into being a contender, while the Jets and Browns try to do the same, but Gettleman has been insisting from his first day as Giants GM that he believes the best way to build a football team is through the draft. Not exclusively, but mostly. That’s the crux of his plan.
And look what he’s done: He has amassed 12 picks in this upcoming draft — one that GMs and scouts have raved about, and one that is supposedly loaded with defensive talent. Two of those picks are first-rounders. Three come in the first 37 selections, four in the first 95.
That’s not nothing. In fact, that’s a great way for a team to rebuild quickly.
“To get that kind of a value in this type of a draft, and to get a third-round pick completing our dance card for April, it was just too much to pass up,” Gettleman said. “It was too much value for us. We’ve got positions to address. This was about us having the ability to address multiple positions.”
That’s true. But here’s the key: Gettleman has to be right with his selections.
In a lot of ways, this is a can’t-miss draft for him.
Just take a look at the Giants from 2012 through 2018: a mess with just two winning seasons and one trip to the playoffs in seven years, and four seasons of double-digit losses. They had so many bad drafts during that span (and even before) under former GM Jerry Reese and his top scouting lieutenant, Marc Ross, that the Giants were forced to spend wildly in free agency in 2015.
That paid off for one 11-5 season and a blowout loss in the playoffs. Now, those bloated contracts and overpaid players are exactly what Gettleman has been trying to purge.
All four of the Giants’ Super Bowl championship teams were built on the foundation of strong drafts. The latter two definitely had some key free agents, but the draft picks were the core.
Gettleman thinks he has some core players from his first draft with the Giants last April: Saquon Barkley (first round), guard Will Hernandez (second) and defensive tackle B.J. Hill (third).
But the core draftees from the Reese era that he felt were worth keeping around were limited: tight end Evan Engram (first round, 2017), defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (second, 2017), receiver Sterling Shepard (second, 2016) … and really, that’s it.
This is Gettleman’s chance to replenish that diminished supply with the types of players and characters he wants, ones who fit into his plan. Unless he goes for a Quarterback of the Future, he should find three instant starters out of his first four picks, and probably another three or four players who can at least compete for a starting job.
That’s huge if that happens. The Giants haven’t had that kind of return on a draft class since Reese’s inaugural draft, when seven of the eight players he selected in the Class of 2007 offered significant contributions to what became a Super Bowl championship team.
Of course, that year, they joined a team much closer to championship level than the current Giants team, so no one is deluding themselves to think Gettleman’s picks can push them over the top. But he certainly could push the “building” project along, skipping several steps on the Giants’ way back to the top.
But yes, it could take a few years to figure that out. What if the Giants use their picks wisely? What if they get a future Pro Bowl offensive lineman with the first-round pick they got from the Browns, and find a stud pass rusher with the third-round pick. Add that to a 23-year-old Peppers, and suddenly the return on Beckham doesn’t look so bad.
Or, at the very least, then it looks better. But the point is, no one knows what Gettleman really got for his efforts now. He loaded up on picks by dumping Beckham, cornerback Eli Apple, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and linebacker Olivier Vernon, and he could end up getting a better comp pick back for his decision to let safety Landon Collins walk.
Those picks aren’t nothing. In fact they could be everything.
Gettleman just can’t afford many mistakes next month whenever the Giants are on the clock.