The Giants may pick a wide receiver, an offensive lineman, an edge rusher, a linebacker or a corner at No. 11.
They also might pick more picks.
If the Giants’ primary goal in this draft is to add good players, their second objective may be to acquire more opportunities to pick those players.
The Giants only have six picks in this year’s seven-round NFL Draft. By contrast, the Jets have 10. In the division, the Eagles have 11, the Cowboys have 10 and Washington has eight.
This doesn’t mean the Giants will have a less productive draft than those teams, but it does mean they have a smaller margin for error in a draft process filled with unpredictability.
One NFL evaluator went as far as telling me recently that he believes the draft is defined in large part by “luck.” He feels it’s difficult to compare teams’ draft records each year when the sample size is so small, with so many unpredictable variables impacting the outcome.
His point was this: Some picks work out, some don’t. The best way to have a better draft is to acquire and make more picks, increasing the sample size and the likelihood of hitting, not just on stars in the early rounds but on depth contributors in the middle and later rounds.
The Giants could use more kicks at the can, not just to hedge against misses but also to fill out their still-evolving roster.
The Giants historically do not trade down in the first round.
Incredibly, GM Dave Gettleman never has traded down in any round in eight NFL drafts: five with the Carolina Panthers and three with the Giants.
The Giants franchise has not traded down in the first round since 2006, when then-GM Ernie Accorsi sent his No. 25 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for No. 32 overall and third-and-fourth round picks.
The Steelers took wideout Santonio Holmes. The Giants selected defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, linebacker Gerris Wilkinson and tackle Guy Whimper with the picks they got back.
Gettleman’s track record obviously reflects an inherent unwillingness to move down the board. But Joe Judge is the wild-card influence in the draft room now due to his Patriots roots.
New England has missed on plenty of draft evaluations in recent years. And the Giants didn’t trade down in Judge’s first draft last spring, making 10 picks total. But Bill Belichick often trades down the board to acquire more assets if he feels the value isn’t there.
In fact, one year ago, New England traded its No. 23 selection to the Chargers for L.A.’s second- and third-round picks and didn’t make a first-round pick at all.
The two main factors that could prompt the Giants to trade down are how the board falls in the top 10 and which quarterbacks remain when their pick arrives.
For one, the Giants will have specific players they are targeting, guys they believe are worth the value of the No. 11 pick. But if those players are taken before they are on the clock, they may see greater value in sliding down the board and still getting a good player.
Linebackers like Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Tulsa’s Zaven Collins, for example, are solid players who probably still would be on the board in the mid-teens and maybe even the early 20s, too. The same might go for Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips.
Meanwhile, the quarterbacks will dictate the board above all.
The Patriots (No. 15) and Chicago Bears (No. 20) are both potential Giants trade partners who might have an appetite to trade up for a top-five QB who falls to No. 11. Washington (No. 19) is hunting for a QB, too, but they’re in division, so the Giants couldn’t help there.
The point here, though, is that the Giants could use an infusion of draft capital.
The returns of last year’s draft are still unclear, but having 10 picks definitely enabled the Giants to pepper their roster with some young athletes who were able to help on offense, defense and special teams, even if mostly in depth roles while flashing upside.
Trading down doesn’t just mean acquiring more draft picks in 2021, either.
This year’s draft process has been so unpalatable for teams that some of them would prefer to trade back in exchange for 2022 draft choices to use next year when the scouting and recruiting trails are closer to normal once again.
Of course this discussion might be moot come April 29 when the first round arrives.
If the Giants are targeting a player like Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith or Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and the player falls to No. 11, then they might just take him, no trades, and that will be that.
The Giants’ dearth of total draft picks is noticeable, though, and they’re aware they could use more if the situation is right.
That doesn’t mean a trade down is happening. But it’s certainly possible, which is more likely than Gettleman’s track record would make it seem.