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Until this year, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman (as well as his predecessors) were not in the practice of trading back in the draft order to acquire more NFL draft capital.
This year was different, however. The Giants held the 11th overall selection, which was right on the cusp of this year’s elite talent, and by the time they were the on the clock their top targets were gone. Gettleman’s response was to shop the pick.
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The Giants found a trade partner in the Chicago Bears, who were eager to trade from the 20th spot in order to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who they had figured would be off the board in the first 10 picks.
Gettleman drove a hard bargain and ended up with the Bears’ first-round pick this year and a fifth-rounder (No. 164), as well as Chicago’s first- and fourth-round picks in 2022.
With pick No. 20, Gettleman selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney, who — depending on who you ask — is in the same class as the receivers the Giants missed out on earlier in the round.
In Round 2, the Giants were targeting Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari with the 42nd overall selection, but Ojulari had been sinking like a stone due to a cloudy medical report on an old knee injury he suffered in high school. Gettleman trade back once again, this time with Miami, swapping No. 42 for No. 50 and a 2022 third-rounder. Gettleman then took Ojulari with the 50th pick.
In Round 3, armed with the draft capital he had amassed in the prior two rounds, Gettleman traded up from No. 76 to No. 71 with Denver to snag Central Florida cornerback Aaron Robinson, another player who had slipped through the cracks in the first two rounds.
Gettleman’s performance in this draft was a complete 180 degree turn from his first three drafts when he treaded water or did not get optimum value on his selections.
NFL data analyst Lee Sharpe rates Gettleman’s 2021 draft day trading spree as the highest net gain by any NFL GM in the last 12 years of the NFL draft — and certainly the highest for the Giants over that same span.
What caused the change in philosophy? Perhaps the presence of head coach Joe Judge and other new faces in the front office. The old way wasn’t working. The new way allowed them to kill it in this year’s draft and stock up for the future.