Dave Gettleman holds his pre-draft press conference on Thursday afternoon. If it is anything like the ones his predecessor held for more than a decade and the ones that happen all around the league at this time of year, it will be devoid of any real information pertaining to the upcoming selection of players into the NFL.
But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be.
Gettleman should walk up to the microphone, look into the cameras, and before anyone asks a question, make the following declaration:
“If Saquon Barkley is there with the second pick, we’re taking him.”
Boom! Twitter may not survive the shockwave.
The reason? Because the worst-case scenario that comes from that announcement would be that it actually happens. That Barkley, the transcendent running back from Penn State, is available when the Giants pick and they scoop him up faster than you can say “the New York Jets are on the clock with the third pick in the draft.” They’d have their most dynamic running back since Tiki Barber and would add a piece that would help every aspect of the offense.
Yes, that’s the worst thing that could happen.
The best? It could force the Browns with the first overall pick, the only team in the NFL that doesn’t have to worry about who is off the board, to suddenly have to worry about it.
If Cleveland entertained any thoughts at all that they could select a quarterback with the No. 1 pick — either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, if you believe the tea leaves — and then still add Barkley with their No. 4 pick, that plan would be shattered. Would the Browns consider reversing their priorities and decide to take Barkley, who many believe to be the surest of sure things in this year’s draft class, first overall and then wait to see which of the handful of top-tier quarterbacks is available at No. 4? Maybe. At least one of the top three of Darnold, Allen and Josh Rosen would be. There might even be two or more of them from which to choose if the Jets decide that Baker Mayfield is their guy at No. 3.
What would that mean for the Giants? It would increase the value of their pick exponentially because it would give them — or whoever eventually holds it — the chance to select the first quarterback in the draft. The phones at Quest Diagnostics Center would light up with calls from Buffalo, Denver, Miami. Maybe even Florham Park. Maybe even Foxborough. All trying to find out what it will take to pry the pick away from the Giants.
If the Giants are truly in love with any of the quarterbacks and feel they are the pick that will lead the team for the next 15 years, they can keep the No. 2 selection and grab him. Sure, there’d be some rough narrative to sand over about the Giants getting their second choice with the second pick, but the guy would still be the second overall selection. These things happen. If that’s the worst storyline hurdle a quarterback in New York has to clear in his career, well, then he’ll probably get that gold jacket Gettleman has said he needs to envision for the pick.
If the Giants do wind up trading that pick and remain in the top six or seven, then they’d not only have the price of the trade in their pocket (maybe an established veteran or even another second-round pick in this year’s draft) but likely have a chance to take a player who can make an immediate impact on the team in 2018. Edge-rusher Bradley Chubb could still be available. Guard Quenton Nelson would be a much more appealing positional pick further down in the top 10 than at No. 2. Maybe safety Minkah Fitzpatrick or linebacker Roquan Smith becomes the cornerstone of the Giants’ new defense. It’s a fairly top-heavy draft class. The Giants will be able to get a very good player as long as they stay relatively close to the top.
What would Gettleman really be saying if he followed the one-line script proposed a few paragraphs above? Not that Barkley is the only player the Giants covet. Not that he’s the only player they think can help them this upcoming season and, with any luck, for the next decade. Simply that if — if! — Barkley is available at No. 2, he’ll be selected by the Giants.
Then Gettleman can sit back for a week, watch the hysteria over breaking one of the league’s golden rules of non-disclosure, and enjoy being in complete control of the draft. He could flash that wry smile he had when he dangled Odell Beckham Jr. to the rest of the NFL at the league meetings in Orlando last month, simply trolling the player to see how much he could get for him.
Gettleman probably won’t do that on Thursday.
But it would sure be fun if he did.