Last year it seemed the entire NFL knew the Giants' intentions in the first round. They wanted either linebacker Leonard Floyd or tackle Jack Conklin. Then they sat back and watched as the Bears and the Titans traded right in front of them to take them both off the board.
Fast forward one year, to Thursday night, when a similar situation unfolded - albeit one not nearly as dramatic. The Giants loved Alabama tight end O.J. Howard and watched as he fell in their direction, but they decided to stand pat at 23 and watched him go to the Buccaneers at 19. They also loved Utah tackle Garett Bolles, but they didn't flinch as the Denver Broncos took him at 20.
Even the picks at 21 (linebacker Jarrad Davis) and 22 (defensive end Charles Harris) were players who had some support in the Giants' war room.
They were happy with their first-round selection - Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram - just as they were happy when they ended up with cornerback Eli Apple last year. Still, given the circumstances, it's a fair question to ask:
Why won't Giants GM Jerry Reese trade up in the first round?
He's done it other rounds - five times, in fact, including two years ago in the second round for safety Landon Collins. But in 11 drafts now as a Giants GM he's never traded in either direction in the first round. That's a bit rare in today's NFL, where the first round has turned into a frenzy of deals over the last decade. But Reese stubbornly won't move.
Why not? He wouldn't get drawn into any trade talk from the media when he was discussing the first round on Thursday night. But a week before the draft he did give a hint into his thinking.
"It costs to move up," Reese said. "If you are going to move up, then you are going to give up a lot of draft picks to move up. Even if you move up just a couple of spots, you have to give up some draft picks to do that and we like taking our picks."
That cost is the bottom line. It doesn't sound like the Giants had any substantial talks about moving up for Howard or Bolles, but they knew the jump would cost at least their third-round pick, according to a team source. And when they evaluated their options, they thought Engram and their third-rounder was a better total package than Howard or Bolles alone
Their third rounder, of course, turned out to be their possible quarterback of the future, Davis Webb, so it'll be a while before we know if they were right.
Here are some other notes and thoughts on the Giants' draft …
- Was Engram a reach? Maybe. Some scouts did have a second-round grade on him, especially since he's not exactly a prototypical tight end. But there was buzz that at least one team was trying to trade in front of the Giants to take him. A lot of speculation was centered around the Bills and the Falcons, but the Browns also traded back into the first to take TE David Njoku six picks later, so it also could've been them. There were three tight ends picked between the Giants first and second-round picks, so Engram obviously never would've made it back to them. If they wanted him, that was probably the spot.
- Isn't it a coincidence how the Giants' "best player available" always seems to fill a need? A pass-catching tight end, a defensive tackle to replace Johnathan Hankins, and a quarterback of the future they told everyone they were likely to take. The order of their board turned out to be pretty convenient.
- Only Reese knows for sure, but multiple team sources said the Giants had zeroed in on Bolles as their projected/preferred pick at 23. They knew it was a possibility he'd go at 20 to Denver, but they thought/hoped the Broncos would prefer Cam Robinson or Ryan Ramcyzk instead. They felt their only immediate need heading into the draft was on the offensive line, and they're concerned about the line's future since Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and D.J. Fluker are all unsigned beyond this year. But once Bolles was gone they were not enamored with the rest of the class and refused to reach for a player they didn't love when they had other needs to fill.
- The report that the Giants tried to trade up in the first round for Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes, who went 10th to the Chiefs (who traded up from 27) is not accurate, according to multiple team and league sources. The Giants did like Mahomes. McAdoo notably attended his Pro Day to scout him in person. According to one source, they would have considered him in the first round at 23. I don't know how strongly, though, because I don't get the sense that they ever imagined he'd be there that late.
- One thing that's certain, though: The cost of moving up to 10 was one the Giants - and Reese -- were never going to pay. The Chiefs gave up their first-round pick and third-round pick this year, and a first-round pick next year. Imagine if Reese, in his first-ever first-round trade, had given up all of that for a player who might - might - be their starting quarterback in 2020.
- The Giants have been monitoring the veteran running back market - particularly LeGarrette Blount - and a team source said they were going to look into signing him after the NFL draft. That window may have closed, though, when they drafted Clemson running back Wayne Gallman in the fourth round. Gallman may be lighter than to Blount by about 30 pounds and he obviously doesn't have his pedigree, but he's a power back with younger legs who could be an effective change-of-pace to the shiftier Paul Perkins. With Shaun Draughn on board as the veteran insurance, and Shane Vereen coming back, it looks like the Giants' backfield is set (although a team source wouldn't completely rule Blount out).
- Remember when Geno Smith had a shot to be the Giants' Quarterback of the Future? OK, nobody ever actually took Ben McAdoo seriously with that. Now, though, it's hard to see what Smith's future with the Giants is at all. The selection of Webb makes the roster crowded and leaves Smith and veteran Josh Johnson theoretically battling for one backup spot. And since Johnson is healthy and has been on the team and knows the offense, he's the leader in the clubhouse. Now, Smith had to know the Giants were toying with the idea of drafting a quarterback when he signed with them. Since he's still rehabbing from a torn ACL and almost certain to open camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, I'd have to think he's a good candidate to start the regular season on PUP too, and then maybe end up on IR. That lets the Giants keep him around as insurance and allows him to stick around and learn from Manning. He was never going to play anyway, so nothing is really lost.
- The Giants think they got a steal in fifth-round DE Avery Moss, a raw pass-rushing prospect who flew under the radar in part because he was overshadowed by his Youngstown State linemate Derek Rivers (taken by the Patriots in Round 3). But he once looked like a future star at Nebraska until an off-field incident where he allegedly exposed himself to a fellow student, pleaded no contest, was fined and then kicked out of school. Playing at a small school and character concerns sent his stock tumbling, but scouts think he can play.