INDIANAPOLIS -- Dave Gettleman admitted the Giants are "open for business" with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft, but only to a point. He won't risk dropping too far and missing out on an elite player.
It's just not exactly clear where Gettleman's line is when it comes to the top players in this draft.
Since the Giants are early in the process of forming their draft board, even they may not know the answer yet to just how far Gettleman is willing to trade down in the first round. He conceded that at the fourth pick, he still "should" be able to find a Hall of Fame-caliber player. That fact alone could keep him anchored to No. 4, unless he decides he can find a similar player a little farther down.
"There are a lot of high-graded players, I'll tell you that right up front," the Giants GM said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I'm excited to see where the board ends up. It's a pretty strong draft, it really is."
Not only is it a strong draft, but the Giants have a perfect storm that could lead to Gettleman trading down in the draft for the first time in his seven drafts as an NFL GM. There are "a lot" of top players, as he said, but there are also several elite quarterbacks -- including Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert -- and a few quarterback-needy teams that might want to try and jump over the Miami Dolphins, who likely will take a quarterback at No. 5.
That's why, as SNY reported two weeks ago, Gettleman is open to trading down -- if he doesn't have to drop too far.
"Trading back has its danger," Gettleman said. "We're at 4. Let's say we trade back to 8. There's only four players that we like. What if they're all gone? Now what are you going to do? You're going to trade back again? You can trade yourself back out of good players."
Just how deep the top shelf of the draft goes depends on whom you ask at this point. It's also in the eye of the beholder, since some of it is based on need. There are some NFL scouts who believe the top group goes 10-12 players deep and includes two-to-three offensive linemen, one-to-two receivers, three quarterbacks, a cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle, at least. The Giants don't need a quarterback (presumably) and teams would likely be moving up for one of those, meaning the Giants could conceivably drop anywhere in the Top 10 and still get one of the elite players at another spot.
And really, if the Giants are going to trade down, it's much more likely that they'd only drop a few spots. The Dolphins, at No. 5, might move up as a preemptive move so that no one jumps over them for the quarterback they desire. The Chargers, at No. 6, might want to jump the Dolphins for a quarterback. It's possible, though not likely, the Carolina Panthers at 7 would want to do the same.
The Las Vegas Raiders (12), Indianapolis Colts (13) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14) could all be in the market for a quarterback, too, but the price would have to be astronomical to convince the Giants to drop that far. It helps that there are generally four offensive linemen -- a big area of need for the Giants -- projected to go in the Top 15, but the Giants would have to be real careful that they don't end up missing out on them all.
The whole idea is also complicated by the fact that the Detroit Lions, at 3, are open for business, too, which could diminish the returns the Giants are able to get. They also likely will wait until the very last minute to strike any deal, just in case a surprise player -- like, say, Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young -- somehow slips through to 4.
Assuming that doesn't happen, though, the Giants' willingness to trade down will depend on where Gettleman draws his red line between the future Hall-of-Famers and the rest of the top prospects. If he draws it at No. 4, he's likely not going anywhere. He's well aware of the difference between elite prospects and ones who are simply great.
And if he has his heart set on a player -- or even a group of players -- he's not likely to let that shot get away.
"I have tried to trade back as a general manager, but the value wasn't there and there was a player there that we really liked," Gettleman said. "I've seen teams trade themselves away from really good players. While it hasn't scarred me, I've seen what it's done to those teams and it's something I just have in my head."