Jets general manager Joe Douglas greets reporters during a practice...

Jets general manager Joe Douglas greets reporters during a practice at the team's training facility in Florham Park, N.J., on June 11, 2019. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

Building a football team is all about choices. Make enough correct ones and you’ll be successful to one degree or another. Hit on the most important ones and you might win championships.

Dave Gettleman and Joe Douglas are going through that painstaking process for the Giants and Jets, respectively. Each general manager faced distinct choices in the early going of this year’s draft, and each came up with the identical answer.

For Gettleman, it was offense over defense by adding a franchise-caliber left tackle to protect 2019 first-round quarterback Daniel Jones and open holes for 2018 first-round running back Saquon Barkley. Final answer: Andrew Thomas of Georgia.

“We spent a lot of time on this, and we want to fix this offensive line once and for all,” Gettleman said after the Giants selected the 6-5, 315-pound Thomas with the fourth overall pick.

For Douglas, it was prioritizing an elite offensive lineman over an elite receiver. In this case, a mountain of a man, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, all 6-7, 363 pounds of him.

Gettleman could have gone defense. We would have had no problem if he had selected playmaking Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a terrific prospect who could have provided a major upgrade for a defense that has been a major problem the last several years. But you can’t begrudge Gettleman for going with his cherished “hog molly” in Thomas, because he is convinced that you win first in the trenches — once you have your quarterback, that is — and then worry about everything else after that.

Before the draft, Gettleman talked about giving Jones adequate protection. For the most part, he ran for his life last year because of a leaky offensive line.

“I’m a wise guy sometimes with [reporters], and I have done a study and I say it’s tougher to complete passes when the guy is on his back,” he said. “I think that was a big part of it. I have always gotten a chuckle out of people who say you draft a quarterback and you have to get him weapons. No. You don’t draft a quarterback and then get weapons. Once you draft a quarterback, you get guys in front of him that will keep him upright.”

Fair enough.

That still doesn’t negate the fact that Gettleman remains without an elite pass rusher, the kind the Giants had when they last won Super Bowls after the 2007 and 2011 seasons. He knows that’s a problem, especially after he opted for Jones over Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen last year and made interior lineman Dexter Lawrence his second first-round pick in 2019. But in Gettleman’s mind, if you think you can solidify the all-important left tackle position for a dozen or so years, you do it.

Douglas made a similar calculation, choosing Becton over an elite group of wide receivers, one of whom might have given third-year quarterback Sam Darnold the kind of big-time target who could elevate his game. But Douglas, himself a former offensive lineman, knows all too well the value of finding his tackle of choice. And Becton is the one he liked all along in this draft.

Douglas was prudent with his free-agent spending by bringing in tackle George Fant, center Connor McGovern and guard Greg Van Roten. He talked up Fant as his left tackle, knowing that if he could land a big-time tackle in the draft, he could move Fant to the right side.

The board worked out perfectly for Douglas and he landed Becton, who certainly will need some technique work at the next level. However, he has the kind of raw talent and physical skills that could transform him into a big-time player for years.

“We’re so excited to add a guy this size and athletic ability, a guy we feel can fortify our front for the long term,” Douglas said.

The run on receivers started one pick after the Jets used the 11th overall pick on Becton when the Raiders selected Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III as the first of six wideouts chosen in the opening round. But Douglas didn’t miss out on the deep receiver group, taking Baylor’s Denzel Mims after trading back in the second round and acquiring a third-rounder in the process. Good work there. 

Just as the Giants could have used a top defensive player such as Simmons, Darnold surely would have welcomed one of the elite receivers. But this was a no-brainer for Douglas. You choose the big man first and worry about wide receiver later, especially in a draft that is considered one of the deepest ever at wideout.

In a sport that is all about choices, Gettleman and Douglas chose wisely.

New York Giants Senior Vice President and General Manager Dave...

New York Giants Senior Vice President and General Manager Dave Gettleman speaks to the media during a NY Giants football press conference on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke