For all the problems that the New York Giants fans have with general manager David Gettleman, they can’t deny that he has been incredibly good with drafting. Despite the bellyaching around him taking Saquon Barkley over a quarterback like Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson, or taking Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick, both are defensible decisions and his eye for talent in later rounds is undeniable (thank him for Darius Slayton, by the way).
The 2021 NFL Draft was no exception, but Gettleman was particularly savvy this year and even learned some new tricks. These are the three best moves made by Gettleman, head coach Joe Judge, and the Giants in the latest draft.
3. Adding depth with Aaron Robinson (Round 3, 71st Overall)
As good as New York’s secondary was in 2020, opting to add very solid depth with Aaron Robinson helps. It also solves the team’s problems for the future.
Logan Ryan and James Bradberry are going to get expensive. If the Giants are to afford keeping their treasure trove of offensive pieces, someone will have to bite the dust. Robinson brings a great all-around package physically, and his shortcomings can be easily solved with time.
The New York #Giants new CB Aaron Robinson ran a 4.38 40-yard dash during his pro day with UCF!pic.twitter.com/AFSRoIePcZ
— Christopher Reiss (@ReissReport) May 1, 2021
The Giants traded up with the Denver Broncos to get the 71st pick–giving up several picks of their own that they received from the Chicago Bears (more on that later)–and getting Robinson was a savvy investment of that upgrade. The only reason this move doesn’t rate any higher is because it could be argued that the Giants should have opted to bolster the offensive line given this draft class’ depth at the position, and because the two other moves on this list are so good.
2. Trading back for Azeez Ojulari (Round 2, 50th Overall)
Here’s the thing that makes the top two moves that the Giants made in this draft special: until 2021, Gettleman had never traded back in the draft order. This year, he traded back twice (spoiler alert for the Giants’ best move from this year’s draft). Trading back for Azeez Ojulari didn’t result in the same sort of asset count as the first-ranked move did, but it was a bold gamble to wait for the 50th pick to take him.
After all, there is no way in any other year that Ojulari would have fallen this far. The Giants originally had the 42nd pick, and they would have been lucky to get hiim at that point, as many were anticipating that Ojulari would go in the first round. A pretty serious injury earlier in his career probably caused him to slide this far down, but as arguably the most talented pass rusher in the 2021 rookie class, he brings incredible value to a team that desperately needs his services.
Andrew Thomas is with Azeez Ojulari when he got picked by NYG??? pic.twitter.com/G274jd2WfA
— Carly (@carlymersky) May 1, 2021
1. Trading back for Kadarius Toney (Round 1, 20th Overall)
This pick was a masterclass in scouting and manipulation.
The Giants initially had the 11th pick in the draft, and many were wondering if they’d opt to take one of the draft’s top linemen or a skill player like Devonta Smith. The hated Philadelphia Eagles, fearing the latter, apparently stole their thunder by trading up to take Smith at 10. However, with Rashawn Slater and Alijah Vera-Tucker still available, many were thinking that’s who they’d opt for.
This guy Kadarius Toney is going to be on the same team as Saquon Barkley pic.twitter.com/KwKzDMrxwc
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) April 30, 2021
Instead, New York made a bold trade, fleecing the Chicago Bears for a boatload of future picks, including the Bears’ first rounder in 2022, for the pick. Luckily for them, Chicago was incredibly desperate for a franchise quarterback and gave New York the entire shop for the chance to take Justin Fields.
So not only did New York land a bunch of future picks, but they got the playmaker they wanted in Kadarius Toney, an explosive and multi-talented playmaker from Florida.