Somewhere in the swamps of New Jersey, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman is studying scouting reports and conducting Zoom calls with players on the team’s draft board from home. That’s the life of an NFL general manager during these unprecedented coronavirus times. For the first time ever, the league will hold a virtual draft on Thursday, instead of the primetime event that was scheduled for Las Vegas. No floating stage, and no boos from Jets fans after their team inexplicably screws up their first-round pick again. This year, the Giants and the 31 other NFL teams will make their picks digitally. The Giants pick fourth overall and Gettleman, along with first-year head coach Joe Judge, have the chance to add a legitimate stud to the roster. But, even a virtual NFL draft offers Gettleman a real chance for failure. Let’s explore the Giants virtual draft night options and potential for disaster.
Giants Virtual Draft Gives Gettleman a Real Chance at Failure
Giants Virtually Draft the Best Defensive Player Not Named Young
Most NFL observers concluded that Thursday night’s first-round is a three-player draft. Joe Burrow (quarterback, LSU), Chase Young, (edge rusher, Ohio State), and Tua Tagovailoa (quarterback, Alabama) are currently the top-rated players on most draft boards. The Giants are unlikely to take a quarterback two years consecutively, leaving Young as the top player available. However, fans hoping to draft the best edge rushing prospect in the last five years may be disappointed. Division rivals, the Washington Redskins, will likely select Chase Young second overall.
The next top-rated defender is Clemson linebacker, Isaiah Simmons. Ralph Vacchiano, SNY NFL Insider covering Big Blue and the Jets, wrote Simmons “is, in the words of one scout, a “defensive weapon” — a linebacker by title, but really an athlete who can line up anywhere on the field. The 6-4, 238-pounder played linebacker, safety, even cornerback at times during his college career. He’s got the strength to shed the blocks of tackles and the speed (4.39 in the 40) to keep up with receivers downfield.” Simmons is not a dynamic pass rusher, a position Gettleman and Big Blue are desperate to fill. Simmons is a good selection, but what’s his position? Also, is Simmons really worth the fourth overall pick of the Giants virtual draft?
There’s Been a Trade
If the Giants get creative and trade back from the number four spot, they need to find a trading partner. Art Stapleton and NJ.com’s mock draft predicts that Big Blue will trade out of the fourth spot. Gettleman could make a deal with his former team, the Carolina Panthers, to move down to the seventh spot and select one of the two top offensive linemen of the first round.
Giants Remain at Four and Pick an Offensive Lineman
With second-year quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley in the backfield, the Giants need to shore up their offensive line yet again. Gettleman vowed to fix the porous line back in December 2017, but he hasn’t done the job yet. This year’s draft offers the beleaguered general manager his latest chance to keep his promise.
Alabama’s Jedrick Wills protected Tua Tagovailoa’s right side for the past two seasons and barely gave up a sack. Wills will be moved to left tackle in the NFL and can make the transition smoothly. SI.com writes, “Wills generates plenty of movement at the point of attack, has the mentality to finish blocks and excels at getting to the second level. While he doesn’t have experience at left tackle, Wills has the quick feet and hands and smooth movement skills to become a high-end starter on either side.”
If the Giants have another lineman higher on their board, it’s most likely the 6’5” offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs from Iowa. Wirfs led all offensive linemen at the combine in the 40-yard dash (4.85), vertical jump (36.5″), and broad jump (10’1″). He also showed impressive movement skills during the on-field drills in Indianapolis. According to Vacchiano for SNY, Gettleman loves Wirfs. However, scouts predict Wirfs grades better at the next level as a right guard than a left tackle.
The Giants’ third option for an offensive lineman could be massive Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. Becton is a mauler in the run game. But he needs to improve his lateral movement and use of hands to become a better pass blocker. This year’s draft is deep with offensive linemen, but can Gettleman finally fix the offensive line once and for all?
Flirting with Another Franchise Quarterback
If you’ve followed Joe Judge’s public comments since his hiring, you noticed he’s refused to utter the name Daniel Jones out loud. The Giants are not 100 percent committed to Jones long-term if you believe in conspiracy theories. That theory gained more traction after NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported Gettleman has been researching Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert this week. Is this simple due diligence? Are the Giants thinking about a trade?
My guess is that the Herbert talk is a smokescreen. The Giants want to raise the value of the fourth pick, in case they trade out of the top five. When smoke of the Giants virtual draft clears, I predict Gettleman will remain in the fourth spot. He will select offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs from Iowa, but only time will tell if the selection works out.
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