— Lesean McCoy (@CutonDime25) April 17, 2018
We are eight days out from the 2018 NFL Draft and every possible option available to the Giants at the second pick has been rumored, somewhere, to be their intention come draft night. We should take a minute to zoom out and discuss the viability/plausibility/possibility of each.
Before doing that, though, we need a better understanding of how to read rumors with proper context. One of the reasons I like Peter King so much, and trust the information he is providing to the public, is because he is as transparent as possible in his line of work. No, he is never going to reveal his sources, but he has no transgressions about letting us behind the curtain to see his process.
He recently explained on a PFF podcast the different layers of obtaining information and then deciding whether or not to share that information. In so many words, King said that when he reaches out to a source to ask questions he prefaces the conversation with “if you can’t tell me anything, that’s fine, I get that, say so and we will move on. Just don’t lie to me.” He also explicitly mentions how even if a source does give him a nugget of information, that source may not be high enough up the org chart to really know the current state of thinking among the key decision makers.
Given Peter King’s stature in his industry, he is in a position where he can just tell someone “if you’re just gonna lie, then don’t worry about it,” and/or decide not to use information because he doesn’t believe that particular source really has in-the-know knowledge. This is important, because not everyone is Peter King.
Less established, or more, uh, let’s say “ambitious” reporters may not have these rules or luxuries. If they get intel from a lower level employee they may run with it so that they get clicks. Hey, they need to make a living right? I’m not saying anything bad about anyone that does this, their livelihood depends on it, and they’re not lying or making up a story or even intentionally planting a story. They’re just reporting, and their job title is “reporter.”
So they may not have the luxury of saying “if you’re just gonna lie then don’t worry about it,” because they need a scoop. So it is important to keep this mind, and sometimes the reporter will give you enough clues about the source that you can tell it is someone removed from the situation. Take this article talking about how, among other things, Darnold is the Giants’ primary target and the team doesn’t like Josh Rosen. The source is an “NFL talent evaluator.” There is no implication anywhere in the article that this evaluator works for the Giants. In fact, there is evidence that the evaluator doesn’t work for the Giants:
“The NFL evaluator spoke to NJ Advance Media on the condition of anonymity so they could speak freely about other teams and players.”
Now, I don’t have the transcript of their conversation, so maybe this person does work for the Giants and spoke freely about other teams and players that aren’t the Giants as well during the course of the conversation. But you can see how it’s entirely plausible this person’s opinion is that of a person in no way related to, or knowledgeable of the thinking of, the Giants.
So, for example, when a reporter quotes a source saying “that’s the type of guy Gettleman wants,” don’t take it at face value. Scrutinize it, question how close that source seems to be to Gettleman, how reliable is this information or is the reporter just informing us of the speculation circulating amongst league insiders?
With that in mind, let’s take a look at everything we have been hearing, because it is a lot. The Giants, at a macro view of all the rumors, seem to be leaving no stone unturned in their decision making process.
The rumors are all over the place and at times entirely contradictory. We have seen:
–Darnold is the apple of New York’s eye
-The Giants don’t like Rosen
–Rosen merits serious consideration
–The Giants don’t like any quarterback
–It would be a mistake to rule out a quarterback
–Gettleman wants to auction off the pick
–There is a lot of buzz of a Giants-Bills trade
–The Giants and Bills have a blueprint in place
–It would be a surprise if the Giants traded the pick
-“They’re debating Barkley vs. Chubb”
–“It’s hard to imagine Barkley won’t be No. 1 on the Giant’s board”
-“It feels inevitable that Barkley is going to be a Giant.”
Oh, and I didn’t even address the tweet I embedded at the beginning of the article. Yesterday, LeSean McCoy tweeted “wow,” and the internet lost its collective mind. Players, on occasion, have sent out cryptic messages on social media when they are informed of a big move that the public finds out about later. So, of course, the natural reaction to a very vague “wow” was the entire twittersphere speculating that:
NFL Trade Rumor: 12th, 22nd and LeSean McCoy from Buffalo to NYG for 2nd overall. Using draft value chart 12 & 22 are worth 1980 points. 2nd overall is worth 2600. So essentially the giants would be saying McCoy is worth 700 points or a Mid 1… #Bills #Giants
— Drew Livingstone (@D12Fantasy) April 17, 2018
Also, this has some how magically flown under the radar, but Brandon Beane, general manager of the Buffalo Bills, said verbatim, “I know everybody assumes we’re trading up. Even if I wanted to trade up — I know the guy and what it takes — it takes a partner to be able to move up.”
Don’t worry, my head is spinning too.
The reason why I find all of this is so fascinating is because by now we typically know who the #1 pick is going to be, and have a pretty good handle on who will be going #2. It was a little later in the process than this that the Eagles jumped from #8 to #2 in 2016, but we don’t know who is going first or second and we’re only 8 days away from the opening round. I just can’t remember the last time the draft was like this. I guess 2006 when the Texans signed Mario Williams before the draft started, but up until that point Mario vs. Reggie Bush vs. Vince Young was intensely debated without anyone really knowing which direction Houston would ultimately choose.
You can say that last year we didn’t know what was going to happen with the second pick, but I think we all had a pretty good idea it was going to be Solomon Thomas. Of course, we were all wrong since the 49ers traded the pick to the Bears on the clock, but the 49ers then selected Thomas 3rd, so were we really wrong?
In 2011 John Elway seems to have changed his mind the morning of the draft and shifted away from Marcell Dareus to Von Miller with the second pick (nailed it). But everyone and their kid brother thought Denver was going to select Dareus, and then once it leaked that Miller was the guy, everyone hopped on board.
Ok, so how do we decipher all of this? Well, let’s first ask ourselves how does each concept benefit the Giants? Smokescreens are planted for a reason, to create leverage. Since a disproportionate amount of the rumors in the past three days are that the Giants are zeroing in on Saquon Barkley, let’s just start there.
How does this benefit the Giants if the information is out there? Well, it signals they are serious about not drafting a quarterback and that the pick is in fact available. There are reports out there that when the Jets traded up with the Colts the Jets never even called the Giants. I have said the entire time that the Giants would never have traded with the Jets anyway, so I don’t know if it really matters if it is true that they didn’t call. But I don’t know why you wouldn’t just try. I mean, the worst case scenario is Gettleman says “not interested,” and then the Jets call the Colts. Wow, thank goodness the Jets didn’t waste those 13 seconds.
I’m not saying I believe the reporting, I’m just saying it is out there that the Jets didn’t call the Giants. Why? Maybe the Jets have spies in the building and know the Giants are praying the Browns don’t take the quarterback the Giants want. That would explain not even placing the call. The affinity for a quarterback would also explain why the Giants would have passed if the Jets did call. So either way, the aesthetics of the Jets only getting up to #3 instead of #2 indicate there is a quarterback the Giants really want and won’t pass up the chance to draft him.
So if the perceived leader in the club house at this point in time is now Saquon Barkley, then the other quarterback needy teams (Bills, Dolphins, Cardinals), know that there has to be some price that Gettleman will sell the pick for if he doesn’t want a quarterback. Maybe those teams won’t be willing to pay that price, but there is a price.
So, yes, there is a real advantage here for the Giants to circulate that Barkley is their guy. It is driving up the cost for the second pick. It may even get the Browns to come up from #4 so that Cleveland can secure Barkley, and then Gettleman can happily take Bradley Chubb two spots later and pick up an extra day two pick in the process.
But there really is a lot of logic to the Giants unwillingness to deal with the Jets because there is a quarterback they want, or perhaps two quarterbacks they want. Whether they are waiting to see if the Browns pass on the one guy they want, or there are two guys they are comfortable with, it makes sense the Giants wouldn’t have traded a month before the draft. And if there is just the one guy – Darnold, apparently – they can wait to see what Cleveland does and then act accordingly — take Darnold if available or trade the pick on the clock.
But is Darnold the only guy they like? We have been told not to rule out Rosen as a possibility and, well, there is this factoid:
“The Giants met with [Rosen] at the combine and Shula was at his pro day. He had a private workout last week in Los Angeles for Shurmur and the same group that attended Allen’s and Darnold’s pro days so they could see him throw up close and personal. That is important for Shurmur. Rosen also had dinner with a group that included co-owner Steve Tisch. He’s the only candidate that is believed to have met with Tisch, which at the very least is noteworthy for an owner aside from Chris Mara — who has a role in personnel — to enter the pre-draft mix. Rosen also is scheduled for a top-30 visit with the Giants in the middle of next week, per a source. They have done their work on the talented UCLA quarterback.”
Steve Tisch, the Giants co-owner, was part of a group that had dinner with Rosen, and Rosen is the only quarterback to have met Tisch. I don’t think I need to elaborate on why that is a substantial event.
Ok, so, then, why is there information out there that the Giants don’t like Rosen? I’m not sure. The Browns aren’t linked to Rosen whatsoever, so the need for the Giants to keep this completely under wraps isn’t entirely necessary. It is prudent, but it isn’t necessary. Maybe they are OK with taking Rosen but would be willing to trade the pick if Buffalo offers enough? But Gettleman doesn’t trade down and Peter King doesn’t think he will this time either.
Also consider who said the team doesn’t like Rosen, our old friend the “NFL talent evaluator.” We have no idea who this person is, or how close he is to Gettleman’s thinking. And, honestly, when it comes to picking a quarterback with the second pick sometimes owners step in and make the decision themselves, so even if Gettleman isn’t interested, Tisch and Mara may force his hand.
Speaking of trading down, you’ve heard by now, either here or elsewhere, that Gettleman doesn’t trade down. Gettleman also said he wants someone who he can see putting on a gold jacket. It may be hard for him to move off this pick when he believes he has the chance to draft a future hall of famer, no matter the offer.
But I don’t think it’s impossible that the Giants trade the pick. Look at what Beane said: “I know the guy and the cost [of moving up].” He is either talking about Gettleman, Dorsey, or Elway. Also, here is another Beane quote: “You got to have a franchise quarterback. That’s one of the main jobs of a GM. It’s a quarterback league. I’ll say it every time: you got to have one.”
We all know the Bills are hell bent on getting up the board for a quarterback, and when the clock is ticking during the second pick, Buffalo may get so desperate that they offer the largest trade package since the RGIII trade. Buffalo is armed with #12, #22, #53, #56, #65, and #96 over the first two days of this draft. They may also be comfortable making their 2019 first round pick available since they have so much draft capital this year. If Beane can get his preferred quarterback with the second pick, and gets nervous with the clock winding down, it isn’t impossible that Beane ships out #12, #22, #96 and Buffalo’s 2019 first round pick – or, apparently, some combination of picks and LeSean McCoy – to the Giants.
Not only is that an absurd amount of draft capital, but the Giants would then have three picks in the 3rd round, leaving them with the ability to move back up from #12 to perhaps #6 (the Colts are rumored to want to move down again) to get whoever is left out of Barkley-Chubb-Nelson. I say whoever is left because we know the first three picks are quarterbacks if the Giants trade #2 to the Bills, meaning at #6 one of those three must be available. It is also entirely possible that the Browns trade #4 to another quarterback desperate team so that team can lock up the last quarterback of the “Big 4.” Gettleman, at that point, could move back up to #6 and get one of Barkley or Chubb, the guys he is deciding between with the second pick (allegedly). (Also, he could try to just get up to #5 to absolutely ensure he gets Barkley or Chubb, and there is a little talk that Denver is looking to move down)
There is also the report that the Giants have “done work” on Marcus Davenport. This signals that Davenport would be their target if they do move down to the 12th pick. If all of this is smoke, if trading down is not a possibility at all for the Giants, then this is remarkable commitment to the bit by the Giants, and I’m just thoroughly impressed.
The Bills and Browns get talked about as trade down options for the Giants, but Denver should be mentioned as well. There is no real indication that Denver will move up for a quarterback, and in fact Peter King specifically called such a move “very unlikely.” But any team trading up to #2 is doing so for a quarterback, so if Gettleman moves down to #5 then once again it’s just math. Quarterbacks go 1-3, and one of Chubb and Barkley has to be available at #5.
Plus, what is the value of there being public word that there are trade scenarios afloat for the Giants pick? To drive up the price of that pick.
Ok, great, so what is going to happen? I’m still unsure. There is obviously an enormous amout of “Barkley is the pick,” momentum right now. We are getting very close to the draft, and we normally know who is going #1 and #2 before the draft commences, so it would make sense for us to just be learning the reality of the situation at this point in time.
The options seem to be (not in order):
-Draft their top rated quarterback
-Trade the pick
You’ll notice I didn’t put draft Bradley Chubb. I just don’t think staying at #2 and taking Chubb is what is going to happen. There certainly are clues that it might. Gettleman used 5 of his 14 picks on the first two days of the draft in Carolina on defensive lineman. One report mentioned how the Giants love Barkley but are debating how much better he really is than other running back prospects in this draft, and then mentioned Chubb as the alternative. This is not a very good group of pass rushing prospects this year. Defensive end is a more premium position than running back.
But so is cornerback, and last year Gettleman passed up Marshon Lattimore for Christian McCaffrey with the 8th pick of the draft, although Gettleman does hate corners. Oh, and Gettleman used the 8th pick of the draft on a running back who wasn’t as good as Saquon Barkley. He appears to have no qualms about the lack of positional value in the top 10.
Upon further review of Gettleman’s first round record in Carolina, it seems that he drafts the best player available on his board:
2013, 14th pick: DT Star Lotulelei
2014, 28th pick: WR Kelvin Benjamin
2015, 25th pick: LB Shaq Thompson
2016, 30th pick: DT Vernon Butler
2017, 8th pick: RB Christian McCaffrey
When I think about what will happen I admittedly get blinded by what I would do. I would take a quarterback, and my second choice would be trading the pick to Buffalo for a king’s ransom of draft capital. Saquon Barkley is going to be an awesome NFL player, but no running back should go in the top 20 picks. I continue to think that the Giants will come to their senses and either take a quarterback they are comfortable with or trade the pick. But there is a lot of Barkley-to-Giants stuff out there right now. Also, I’ve clearly put Peter King up on a pedestal here, so, on that aforementioned PFF podcast King said, as of that recording, his best guess is that the Giants will take Barkley.