Laying out Giants’ blueprint for rebuild after Odell Beckham Jr. trade
The Giants have been cut down to size by just about everyone after their decision to trade wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. two weeks after they said they would not do so. Coming off a 5-11, last-place season in the competitive NFC East, there is little faith in general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur leading a turnaround anytime soon.
New York is a worse team for the short term with Beckham, defensive end Olivier Vernon and safety Landon Collins all departing. But in return, the Giants are up to 12 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they have have two solid new starters in right guard Kevin Zeitler and safety Jabrill Peppers.
MORE: Grading the Beckham trade for Giants
Gettleman defended the marquee house-cleaning by showing confidence the Giants will do right by the assets they have going forward.
“You can win while you build a roster,” Gettleman said in team-issued statement. “We do have a plan, and this part of it.”
How might the Giants go about executing the next stages? Let’s take a look:
Oddly, the only certainty for the Giants now is that Eli Manning, 38, will remain on the roster as the starting quarterback. Emotions from ownership aside, that’s not crazy. It keeps New York from forcing itself into taking a QB early in the draft.
With the No. 6 and No. 17 overall picks this year, the Giants are right to do their due diligence scouting Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones and Drew Lock. But unless one of them blows New York away between now and April 27, they should pass on a QB in this year’s draft and wait for Manning’s successor in 2020, when Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert top a stronger class.
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If it’s a QB in 2019, Jones or Lock at No. 17 would make more sense. The Giants then could use No. 6 to land a can’t-miss edge rusher or offensive tackle, the kind of pick running back Saquon Barkley felt like at No. 2 overall last year.
The third and best option, which gets the Giants someone to groom for the near future while hedging bets on Manning now, is trading their high second-round pick (No. 37) to the Cardinals for Josh Rosen. That’s reportedly around Arizona’s asking price for last year’s first-round QB so the Cardinals can clear a path to take Murray No. 1 this year.
The Giants would still have 11 picks and plenty to use toward supporting their passing game.
Zeiter upgrades an offensive line that will also feature Nate Solder, Will Hernandez and Spencer Pulley in 2019. But right tackle is a glaring weakness. Florida’s Jawaan Taylor, Alabama’s Jonah Wiliams and Washington State’s Andre Dillard must be play for either of New York’s first-round picks.
With both of those picks, the Giants also can’t go wrong taking the best defensive player available. Kentucky’s Josh Allen or Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat would be the edge-rushing guys to consider most.
MOCK DRAFT 2019:
Giants take chance on QB early
With No. 17, Florida State’s Brian Burns can be considered at the position. That pick also lines up with the draft’s premier inside linebackers, LSU’s Devin White or Michigan’s Devin Bush, or a top corner such as LSU’s Greedy Williams, Georgia’s Deandre Baker or Washington’s Byron Murphy.
If the Giants were to go wide receiver at No. 17 — No. 6 is too early — then Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown is an option. But considering the early strength of the draft is defense, and the wideout class is deep with sleepers, they can target their Beckham replacement later. With extra picks deeper in the draft, the Giants have the ability to trade up and get who they want on Day 2.
Rest of free agency plan
The Giants started big on the open market, but now comes the small ball. After moving the Beckham and Vernon contracts, they have about $26 million left under the salary cap.
When Gettleman was GM of the Panthers, he won Sporting News’ NFL Executive of the Year award after he built Carolina into a Super Bowl team in 2015. He made many shrewd lower-cost moves for aging veterans who had been on multiple teams but still had something left to contribute.
The Giants’ reported pursuit of free-agent receiver Chris Hogan lines up with that, much like the Panthers’ 2013 signing of Ted Ginn Jr. to offset the release of Steve Smith.
The big spending on Nate Solder last offseason was an anomaly out of desperation. The Giants spent a little less on guard Patrick Omameh, and after little return, they cut him in November.
MORE: OBJ’s message to NY after trade
To many, Gettleman’s ways are cold, calculated and, well, cheap. But in the NFL, that has proven to be a better path to winning games as opposed to splashy, expensive signings.
Even in the constant win-now nature of the league, a little patience is still required. By moving a valuable commodity like Beckham, the Giants have put pressure on themselves to hit on everything just right in the fallout. It won’t be easy, but the path to get it done is being laid.
Gettleman now needs the time to try to take it.
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