Dave Gettleman made various questionable draft moves with the Giants.
The organization allowed Gettleman, who it hired ahead of the 2018 season, to “retire” after he went 19-46 in four years. It was a gutless move to not just fire him in the middle of the four-win 2021 campaign, but regardless of how it all ended, Gettleman still negatively affected his own legacy while with Big Blue.
The DG era in East Rutherford was an ultimate failure — I mean, we just told you what his record was, right? It was four seasons full of numerous moves that dug the team deeper into a hole of ineptitude and irrelevancy, many of which came in the draft.
Great teams are built through this annual late-April/early-May event. And given the Giants have hardly been in any position to break the bank on a significant number of players or involve themselves in blockbuster trades to acquire superstars, the draft needed to be Gettleman’s moneymaking event each and every offseason.
It wasn’t, to say the least…
Where’d everyone go?
In four drafts (2018-21), Gettleman was responsible for the selection of 33 different players (one of whom was a supplemental draft pick). Many should be key players throughout the roster by now.
Instead, only 23 remain with the team up to this point, including an inconsistent guard in Will Hernandez, an edge rusher who hasn’t recorded a sack since 2019 in Oshane Ximines, a wide receiver who tends to disappear in Darius Slayton, and the likes of Matthew Peart, Carter Coughlin, T.J. Brunson, Elerson Smith, Gary Brightwell, and Rodarius Williams, none of whom are exactly game-changers at their respective positions.
Hog Molly mistakes
This offensive line hasn’t been productive in…well…forever it seems.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it — it’s been a long [expletive] time since the Giants have been successful in this area of the field. The struggles in the department have certainly played a role in the offense having resided in a putrid state the last few years.
Many of the issues can be chalked up to Gettleman making various draft-related mistakes regarding the line.
Initially, there was the 2018 drafting of guard Will Hernandez, who underwent a promising rookie campaign before essentially falling off a cliff and only reacquiring a starting spot this past season because of Kevin Zeitler’s 2021 release.
Other poor offensive line picks have included 2019 seventh-round tackle George Asafo-Adjei and 2020 third-round tackle Matthew Peart (who figures to be a potential bust after a disappointing sophomore campaign).
The only other two draft picks utilized on the line were the team’s 2020 first-round selection (on tackle Andrew Thomas) and 2020 fifth-round selection (on guard Shane Lemieux). Thomas was fantastic in his second season and Lemieux is looking to improve after an injury-plagued sophomore campaign.
So…five out of the 32 total draft picks used on the offensive line? And only one of them is looking to absolutely be in the future plans of this organization right now? Really, Dave?
This unit has been below-average for years. And Gettleman decided to essentially ignore those issues during the draft and didn’t have the greatest track record when he did focus on them.
Good job, Dave.
Skill player problems
While five of the 32 draft picks were on offensive linemen, only six were on offensive skill players.
The offense has been a unit that’s struggled mightily for a number of years — it was hardly consistent even with former head coach Pat Shurmur calling the plays in 2018 and 2019.
And Gettleman still decided to ignore the slate of offensive skill players for many of the drafts in which he was in control.
Two of those skill players were quarterback Kyle Lauletta (2018 fourth round) and running back Gary Brightwell (2021 sixth round). The former? A career backup who was 0-for-5 with one interception in his Giants career. The latter? A special teams weapon and third-string running back at best.
Wide receiver Darius Slayton (2019 fifth round), who’s regressed since his productive rookie campaign and has descended the depth chart over time, wide receiver Kadarius Toney (2021 first round), who’s incredibly injury prone, and Daniel Jones (2019 first round), an inconsistent, injury-prone, turnover-prone quarterback who’s yet to prove he’s the future of the franchise.
Oh, and running back Saquon Barkley…
The first move: the worst move
In his first draft as the Giants general manager back in April 2018, Dave Gettleman made the move that has continued to set this franchise back: the drafting of Barkley at No. 2 overall.
This was following a 2017 campaign in which the team went 3-13; following a year in which quarterback Eli Manning was truly showing his age. This was during an offseason when guys like Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were two of the top quarterback prospects in the draft.
And with a prestigious resource such as a second overall pick, Gettleman decided to acquire a guy at a position that’s significantly declined in value.
Barkley has dealt with injuries each of the last three seasons and has been nowhere near the back he was during his sensational 2018 rookie campaign. However, the problems stemming from his draft selection run much deeper than that.
The Giants bypassed taking a quarterback in a quarterback-heavy 2018 draft when their current one was entering his age-37 season. In a passing league, no less.
That decision subsequently led to the Giants needing to draft a signal-caller in 2019, when they essentially had to choose between Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins — not ideal.
Now, nearly three years later, Big Blue is stuck with a quarterback who’s yet to prove he’s the future of the franchise and a running back who’s always hurt, both of whom are at the forefront of what’s a vanilla offense even when healthy.
Drafting Josh Allen at No. 2 wouldn’t have led to these issues. Drafting an offensive lineman with that pick would’ve additionally been much more beneficial in the long run. Even trading back from No. 2 to add picks would’ve been a productive move with the long-term future in mind.
But, Gettleman made a noteworthy investment in a running back, an investment that has led to issues in other areas and has prevented this offense from seriously progressing.
Again — good job, Dave.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY