An apt characterization of Giants general manager Dave Gettleman is revealing. While other National Football League GMs engage in the league’s version of tradecraft, doggedly trying to throw rivals off the trail of who they are targeting to draft, and clandestinely communicating with counterparts to move picks like chess pieces, Gettleman has often implicitly revealed his intentions.
In the months leading up to the 2018 Draft, he might as well have rented a helicopter to fly a banner reading “We’re taking Saquon Barkley” with the No. 2 overall pick. The following year, the 70-year-old football lifer with the distinct Boston accent, reflecting his roots in the Mattapan neighborhood of the city, telegraphed his leanings to select quarterback Daniel Jones. Relatively few believed the signals were legitimate until league commissioner Roger Goodell announced the QB from Duke was indeed the Giants’ choice with the sixth pick in the first round.
Trader Dave he isn’t. Prior to last Thursday, Gettleman had never executed a single trade down in the draft in eight seasons as a general manager, holding that position from 2013 to 2017 with the Carolina Panthers and then being hired as the Giants GM in December of 2017. (Gettleman was the Giants’ director of pro personnel from 1999 to 2011 and senior pro personnel analyst in 2012).
Yet last Thursday, as the first round of the draft moved toward the Giants selecting at No. 11, a shocking announcement was made by Goodell: The Giants had traded their pick to the Chicago Bears, desperate for a young franchise quarterback, in exchange for the Bears’ spot at No. 20 and a fifth rounder, as well as the Bears’ 2022 first round pick and a 2022 fourth rounder. Chicago ecstatically secured Ohio State QB Justin Fields at No. 11.
It was a masterful maneuver by Gettleman, placing the Giants in an advantageous space to amply improve their roster for the upcoming season and take a substantial step forward in 2022 with two valuable first rounders in their portfolio. The Giants used the 20th pick on dynamic wide receiver Kedarius Toney from the University of Florida.
“Obviously it was too good an opportunity,” said Gettleman via Giant.com “It added too much value, and we felt very comfortable with where our board was and we felt comfortable with who would be there, who would be available in that slot. So, we made it. We did it. We added a one and a four next year. … We were very pleased we were able to make the play.”
The addition of Toney bolsters the Giants’ treasure trove of skill players that includes wide receivers Darius Slayton, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Sheppard, tight ends Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph, and running backs Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker. Jones will be entering a pivotal third year as a pro and Gettleman has surrounded him with considerable talent to aid his development. It could be a defining season for the long-term future of Jones—who will turn 24 later this month—with the franchise.
With the 50th pick (Round 2), the Giants selected Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who many analysts viewed as the draft’s best pure pass rushing prospect. In Round 3, pick No. 71, they took cornerback Aaron Robinson from the University of Central Florida. Linebacker Ellerson Smith (Northern Iowa, Round 4), running back Gary Brightwell (Arizona, Round 6) and defensive back Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State, Round 6) completed the Giants’ draft class.