Dave Gettleman, our 69-year-old football lifer, is surviving in his unsettling virtual reality NFL world … a world without interpersonal relationships and getting-to-know-you dinners and watching prospective draftees interact inside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“We got the visual touch-point, but we’re really missing out on the personal touch-point when you can smell and feel a guy,” Gettleman said on a Monday conference call with the media.
The Giants feel they have navigated over these stormy seas as well as possible, but of course COVID-19 has complicated things for all 32 GMs.
It doesn’t change anything the fact that Gettleman’s true dilemma will come on draft night:
“With the fourth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will begin standing, in the basement of his Bronxville home, “the New York Giants select … ”
Will it be Isaiah Simmons, the Robo-Freak playmaker, if Gettleman is forced to stick at No. 4 and picks and cannot or will not trade down, something he’s never done in his career?
Or will it be Tristan Wirfs, or Mekhi Becton, or Andrew Thomas, or Jedrick Wills Jr. to block for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley?
Inside Dave’s Dilemma:
Robo-Freak Playmaker is a need.
Offensive tackle is a need.
Gettleman has always believed that drafting for need gets you in trouble, but he’ll be drafting for need here and now, whether he chooses to admit so or not.
He believes his free-agent signings of CB James Bradberry, LBs Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell and DT Austin Johnson enable him to go the best-available-player route come Thursday.
“I think we’ve done a good job … it’s not perfect. … I’m pleased with where we’re at going into the draft,” Gettleman said.
But who is best available player?
Even Bill Belichick — we think — won’t be able to find a way to access the Giants’ draft board, so only Gettleman will know whether he will have Simmons rated in a league of his own, the way Barkley was in 2018. Gettleman will have to ask himself whether Simmons fits his definition of Gold Jacket Guy. In which case, Gold Jacket Guy would trump offensive tackle.
On the other hand, he is well aware that he has yet to make good on his vow to fix the offensive line. And it precipitated the end of the Eli Manning Era. It has devalued Barkley, who will be entering Year 3 at a position where the average shelf life is 2.57 years.
Gettleman gushed about tackle Nick Gates, a former free agent, wouldn’t rule out moving him to center, another hole on the offensive line, but c’mon.
Dave’s Dilemma in 2018: Barkley or franchise quarterback? Gettleman, with the second overall pick, kicked the franchise quarterback can down the road.
Dave’s Dilemma in 2019: Franchise quarterback or elite pass-rusher? Gettleman, with the sixth pick, agonized over passing on Josh Allen because it was past time for franchise quarterback to trump any other position.
Dave’s Dilemma in 2020: What if Simmons has only a slightly higher grade than, say, Wirfs? Gettleman intends to give Barkley a second contract. Christian McCaffrey just agreed to a $16 million-per-year deal. Gettleman will have to weigh that in his thinking. Not to mention that left tackle Nate Solder will be gone after this season and Cameron Fleming is better served as a swing tackle.
With 16 picks over the past two years, Gettleman has drafted two offensive linemen — guard Will Hernandez (second round in 2018) and tackle George Asafo-Adjei (seventh round in 2019).
Simmons can be deployed as a pass-rush weapon for a team that doesn’t seem interested right now in Jadeveon Clowney or Markus Golden, or possibly trading for disgruntled Jaguar Yannick Ngakoue.
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Simmons detractors will point to the positional value edge belonging to offensive tackle over linebacker/safety.
“I think it matters only in how they fit in your system, and how you can use them to expand in your system,” Joe Judge said Wednesday. “Every player has to have a level of versatility within their game to adjust to different game plans and schemes. To me if you find a player who’s had great impact and has an upside, that’s a guy you want to really add to your roster. To me the position home’s gonna be defined by how you choose to use ’em and that’s really up to us as coaches to be creative and maximize their strengths and not talk about what they’re not and figure out what they can do for us and help us win.”
Gettleman has drafted 10 defensive players over his first two drafts, acquired Jabrill Peppers in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, acquired Leonard ($16.1 million) Williams in the controversial trade with the Jets, re-signed LB David Mayo and added the four defenders in the most recent free-agent period.
“You just gotta keep building it,” Gettleman said. “We’re excited about the draft, there’s good players there. Nothing’s ever done, if that makes sense.”
Robo-Freak Playmaker makes sense for a defense starving for one.
Offensive tackle makes sense for a young franchise quarterback and a generational running back.
Such is Dave’s Dilemma.