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How the Giants can win the 2020 NFL Draft

Matt Johnson
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman enters a pivotal offseason both for the team’s sake and his own. While free agency will be important, how Gettleman approaches the 2020 NFL Draft will shape the Giants’ future.

The Giants can proudly boast that they have a franchise quarterback and running back, but that’s about all this team has in its favor. Much of that reflects on Gettleman’s decisions. Simply put, New York’s general manager needs to draft better to keep his job.

The skinny: While the Giants are happy to have an All-Pro talent in Barkley, it wasn’t worth the No. 2 overall pick. Gettleman received overwhelming criticism for the selection, given the talent he passed on, with critics proving to be right.

New York could have traded down from the No. 2 pick, taking advantage of a deep quarterback class with multiple teams seeking to move up for Sam Darnold or Josh Allen. Instead, Gettleman overvalued the running back position and passed on outstanding talent at more valuable positions.

  • 1.04 – Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns – The 22-year-old cornerback made the Pro Bowl in his first season and continues to make steady progress. He’s got all the tools to be a shutdown corner. Coincidentally, this is now one of the team’s biggest needs.
  • 1.05 – Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos – He racked up 12 sacks in his rookie season and was on pace for another strong year before tearing his ACL. Chubb would have been New York’s top pass rusher on a unit that desperately needs one.
  • 1.05 – Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts – Nelson is one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL and he’ll likely be an All-Pro guard for the next decade.
  • 1.11 – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers – A first-team All-Pro this past season, Pittsburgh’s star safety is simply a playmaker. As you might expect, safety is now one of this team’s greatest needs.
  • 1.16 – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills – The 21-year-old linebacker is younger than some of the top 2020 NFL Draft prospects. Meanwhile, Edmunds made the Pro Bowl roster in 2019 and is quickly becoming an impact defender.
  • 1.17 – Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers – Even after missing a majority of the 2018 season, many still regard James as one of the league’s best defensive backs. He’ll likely be an All-Pro, which he accomplished as a rookie, for years to come.

Gettleman easily could have drafted a player like Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson in the second round. He also made mistakes with his third-round picks (Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill).

Ownership gave Gettleman another offseason to work his magic and he ended up with three first-round picks. While the Daniel Jones’ selection drew criticism, it should work out for the Giants. The same can’t be said for cornerback Deandre Baker, the No. 30 overall selection, who represented burnt toast each time he took the field.

After winning nine total games over the past two seasons, ownership put Gettleman on notice towards the end of the 2019 season. While his job was ultimately saved, Gettleman needs to nail this draft and provide hope for the Giants’ future to avoid striking out.

Dominating the Draft: Gettleman and the Giants simply need to knock the 2020 NFL Draft out of the park. Fortunately, there’s an excellent opportunity to make up for the mistakes of the past thanks to another loaded draft class at quarterback.

New York’s options to trade down will be plentiful. The Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are among the top options. Moving down to Tampa Bay’s selection at No. 14, even with a strong return, is unlikely. Meanwhile, the Panthers could hold their chips to tank for Trevor Lawrence next year.

Ultimately, the best and most realistic scenario could be a deal with the Chargers. Trading the No. 4 overall selection to the Chargers for the No. 6 pick, a 2020 second-round selection and the team’s 2021 second-round pick.

  • 1.06 (via LAC) – Jedrick Willis, OT, Alabama – Moving down two spots still puts the Giants in position to draft one of the elite tackle prospects in this draft class. Willis is a superb athlete for the position and pairs it with impressive strength and size. He can be a pillar on the left side for 10-plus years and the Giants get great value by moving down.
  • 2.36 – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State – If the Giants don’t trade down, they’ll face a tough decision between drafting an edge rusher or cornerback. That choice doesn’t need to happen with two second-round selections. Gross-Matos needs to grow into his 6-foot-5 frame and he needs NFL coaching to help him with his pass-rush moves. He can produce immediately, but his ceiling is even higher and he can become the top pass rusher this defense needs.
  • 2.37 (via LAC) – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama – Diggs’ combination of athleticism, size and instincts could make him a future safety. For now, the Giants could keep him at cornerback to see if he excels. He’s a physical corner, drawing comparisons to Aqib Talib by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, that’s the kind of player this secondary needs and the Giants add him by trading down with the Chargers.
  • 4.100 – David Woodward, LB, Utah State – The Giants need to find help at linebacker this offseason and Woodward makes for a solid addition. He’s not an impressive athlete, but he excels at reading and reacting to plays. He falls due to long-term medical concerns, but New York will likely be happy just to have a player who can contribute immediately.
  • 5.132 –Tyler Johnson, WR Minnesota – Daniel Jones needs a receiver who can fight for 50-50 balls and make some tough catches. Johnson routinely displayed that ability with the Golden Gophers. He can be a monster in the red zone for New York’s offense as a rookie and develop into a No. 2 receiver early in his career.

Gettleman will be presented with plenty of options to trade down during the 2020 NFL Draft. In fact, he could move down from No. 4 to No. 6 to pick up the two second-round picks and then move down again.

Even if the Giants only follow the scenario we presented, they address a need in the secondary with a great addition and they pick up an additional second-round pick next year.

The bottom line: This is the chance for the Giants to take a major step forward this offseason. It will start in free agency, but Gettleman’s recent history demonstrates why the 2020 NFL Draft will be even more crucial.

If the Giants come out of the draft with this haul, the organization and fan base would be elated. They add a pillar on the left side to protect Daniel Jones, add three key pieces to upgrade their defense and provided Jones with a red-zone weapon. Keep in mind, they will also likely have a third-round compensation pick this year and are just waiting for the NFL to announce it.

This is the kind of draft haul that will move the Giants forward, help get the target off Gettleman’s back and push this team back towards relevance in New York.