DeAndre Baker wasn’t the only one gambling.
The Giants ignored red flags uncovered in scouting Baker and placed a bet on talent by selecting the cornerback in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft despite an organizational split on whether he was worth the risk.
“There was a battle in our building on whether we were going to take DeAndre or not,” a source privy to the Giants’ draft thinking told The Post, “because the story was he had to have his a– kicked every day to work hard at Georgia — to even go to practice. We knew that and we still drafted him, and from Day 1 it was like taking a guy in the first round that you had to teach nearly everything to.”
General manager Dave Gettleman’s unexplained break from prioritizing clean character could cost the Giants dearly on the depth chart — where they have no suitable replacement — and in the bank (Baker signed a four-year, $10.2 million contract).
Police in Florida issued an arrest warrant Thursday for Baker, 22, on four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault.
Baker and Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar — charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm — allegedly lost $70,000 gambling earlier in the week before they and a masked accomplice stole $12,000 in cash and an estimated $61,000 in watches at gunpoint during another party with more gambling, witnesses said in a police affidavit.
The allegations are a long and difficult-to-foresee leap from the whispers about motivation, work ethic, commitment and responsibility that followed Baker before the draft — especially after his disappointing NFL Scouting Combine performance, both in drills and disengaged interviews — and caused multiple teams to slide him down their boards.
The Giants traded second-, fourth- and fifth-round picks to move up seven spots from No. 37 to No. 30 to make Baker the first cornerback off the board. Others in the building preferred Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin (Colts), Central Michigan’s Sean Murphy-Bunting (Buccaneers) and LSU’s Greedy Williams (Browns).
Those three are among seven second-round cornerbacks who were drafted after Baker, though Gettleman had ruled out Williams, the source said. Given the depth at the position, it was the kind of bold trade where a team must be sure one option is clear-cut above the rest.
“This is a bad look for the Giants,” one NFL scout said when asked what the Giants missed.
Baker, who allowed one touchdown pass in his final three years at Georgia, struggled handling the adversity of a poor start to his rookie season. He didn’t start Week 1, was torched in Week 2 and benched multiple times.
Baker routinely had difficulty staying awake in meetings and the previous Giants coaching staff took a “bad cop, bad cop” firm hand behind the scenes, the source said. The response was more tuning out instruction — Baker admitted he needed to spend more time in his playbook after a Week 10 loss to the Cowboys — than disrespect.
Baker did not participate in the Giants’ voluntary minicamp this week, according to The Athletic.
“You’d take him off his film,” a league source said. “But there were too many red flags. It felt like New York was a bad spot for him, anyway.”
Darryl Elmore, who coached Baker in track at Northwestern High School in Miami told The Post he was very surprised to hear of the allegations. Despite growing up in a neighborhood where violence is prevalent, Baker “wasn’t involved in any of that” and was the type of teenager a coach doesn’t worry about, Elmore said.