New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman never traded down before the 2021 NFL Draft. If not for his division rivals, New York’s top decision-maker might have maintained his bizarre streak and the course of the draft might have played out very differently.
Holding the No. 11 pick, the Giants were in a great spot as the first nine picks were announced. DeVonta Smith, Rashawn Slater and Micah Parsons were all available for the taking. With the Cowboys already loaded at wide receiver, New York was just minutes away from landing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Everything changed instantly. The Philadelphia Eagles shocked the NFL world, trading with the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas received a third-round pick and moved down to the No. 12 spot and Philadelphia leapfrogged the Giants to steal Smith away from Gettleman.
An SEC defensive coordinator told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that the Eagles’ bold move angered New York’s front office. Gettleman and the Giants “were pretty livid” upon discovering Philadelphia’s general manager Howie Roseman traded up to draft Smith.
With the playmaking wide receiver off the board, New York’s dreams of a receiving corps with Smith, Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard were crushed. Once their top target was drafted, the Giants executed a trade with the Chicago Bears, sliding down to No. 20 and picking up a 2022 first-round pick.
Gettleman’s desire to upgrade the receiving corps became clear when he finally submitted his pick, drafting Kadarius Toney earlier than many expected.
Ultimately, the Eagles-Cowboys trade created a domino effect that will shape the course of multiple NFL teams. But it’s worth wondering what may have happened if the Cowboys stay put and took Parsons 10th overall.
The Giants likely would have also stayed put, with Gettleman viewing Smith as a talent the organization couldn’t pass on. With Smith off the board for Philadelphia, Roseman might have made a similar deal with the Bears or he could have swung a deal with the Minnesota Vikings (14th pick) for the right to draft Justin Fields.
In the end, the Eagles and Cowboys might have done New York a favor. With the Bears planning to start Dalton in 2021, they could be one of the worst NFL teams next season. If that happens, the Giants will likely have two top-15 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.