The New York Giants hired Dave Gettleman to be their new general manager last month. Gettleman served as the GM of the Carolina Panthers from 2013 to 2017.
During that time, it became evident that Gettleman tended to draft certain types of players more often than other types of players. Here are the three most notable trends I observed when I analyzed Gettleman’s draft history:
Defensive linemen in the first three rounds
Gettleman is not afraid to draft offensive or defensive linemen in the first two rounds of the draft. In fact, in 2013, Gettleman’s first year with the Panthers, he selected defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. He was deemed to be crazy for selecting defensive tackles in the first two rounds of the draft, but Gettleman ended up getting the last laugh. Lotulelei has been a starter for his entire career, and Short has been a starter each of the last four seasons. Short was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 after posting a career-high 11 sacks. These players have anchored a strong Panthers defense in recent seasons.
The Giants do not need defensive tackles right now. They have Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson, and both of those players are under contract for the next several seasons. Those two players are two of the only players the Giants could count on in 2017. Harrison should have been named to the Pro Bowl, while Tomlinson is considered to be an above-average starter. Gettleman will likely not select a defensive tackle in the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.
However, Gettleman could draft a defensive end on Day 2 of the 2018 Draft. Gettleman has drafted defensive ends in the second round or third round multiple times in Carolina. He selected Kony Ealy in the second round in 2014 and took Daeshon Hall in the third round in 2017. Ealy would have been named the MVP of Super Bowl 50 if the Panthers had found a way to win the game. He had three sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. Ealy was traded prior to the 2017 season. Hall only appeared in one game this season and was placed on injured reserve in October.
The Giants could select a defensive end in the draft because the most successful teams in the NFL tend have a lot of depth at that position. One of the Giants’ fiercest rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, has a particularly deep defensive line group. New York has Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul firmly entrenched in starting roles, but the team does not have many reliable options behind them on the depth chart. I could easily see Gettleman grabbing a pass-rushing end (or outside linebacker if the new coach runs a 3-4 Defense) on Day 2 of the Draft.
Big, physical wide receivers
In Carolina, Gettleman clearly made an effort to draft wide receivers who are big and physical. He drafted Kelvin Benjamin in the first round of the 2014 Draft. Benjamin is one of the tallest receivers in the league at six-foot-five and is great at catching jump balls.
Benjamin starred alongside Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston at Florida State. He had 1,011 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in his sophomore season in 2013. One of those touchdowns ended up being the decisive score in the National Championship game.
In his three-and-a-half seasons in Carolina, Benjamin was at the top of the wide receiver depth chart. He had 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2014, but then missed his second season with an injury. The Panthers did not miss a beat without him. They went 15-1 and won the NFC Championship in 2015. Benjamin was traded to Buffalo midway through the 2017 season.
In 2015, Gettleman drafted Devin Funchess out of Michigan in the second round. Funchess, like Benjamin, is six-foot-five. Funchess played mostly at tight end at Michigan and never had over 800 yards receiving in a season in college. He wasn’t a prolific pass-catcher, but he put up decent receiving numbers on a team that did not have an elite-level prospect like Winston at quarterback.
Funchess has improved every season since he was drafted. In 2017, he started all 16 games and led the Panthers with 840 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns.
Gettleman also drafted Curtis Samuel in the second round in 2017. Samuel is a quick receiver who was a star running back at Ohio State. He is unlike the other receivers Gettleman drafted in Carolina. Samuel seems to be an outlier among Gettleman’s drafting. Giants fans can expect Gettleman to value size and strength over quickness and agility at the wide receiver position.
If Gettleman decides to cut wide receiver Brandon Marshall, someone will need to step into the starting lineup. That receiver will likely be a big target with physical features similar to Marshall’s.
It is no secret that Gettleman appreciates “hog mollies,” which is the nickname he has given to his offensive linemen. Gettleman drafted an offensive lineman in four of his five drafts in Carolina. Of course, the Giants badly need offensive line help and will potentially draft multiple players at that position group in the upcoming draft in April.
Gettleman had mixed success drafting offensive linemen in Carolina. He selected guard Edmund Kugbila out of Valdosta State in the fourth round in 2013. Unfortunately, Kugbila never played a down in the NFL because of various injuries.
In 2014, Gettleman selected guard Trai Turner out of LSU in the third round. Turner has had the most success of any offensive lineman Gettleman has drafted. Turner made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2016 and has been one of the Panthers’ most consistent and reliable offensive players. He missed three games in 2017, but he is still a very good player.
Gettleman drafted guard/tackle Daryl Williams out of Oklahoma in the fourth round in 2015. Williams became the full-time starter at right tackle in 2017 and had a breakout season. He started all 16 games and was named Second-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Williams, who was rated as the third-best offensive tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, has a promising future. Drafting Williams in the fourth round is one of the best decisions Gettleman made as Panthers GM.
The Panthers’ most recent selection on the offensive line has not started a game yet. Gettleman and Carolina’s front office took Taylor Moton with the last pick in the second round in 2017. He appeared in all 16 games, but did not have any starts. Moton will probably get a chance to prove himself in the coming years.
Multiple players at the same position in the same draft
Gettleman has not been afraid to draft a player at a position which he already drafted. As I referenced earlier, he selected Lotulelei and Short, both defensive tackles, in the first two rounds of the 2013 Draft. He was widely criticized at the time, but both players ended up being major contributors to Carolina’s Super Bowl run in 2015.
In 2016, Gettleman decided to draft three cornerbacks in order to fill the void left by outgoing free agent Josh Norman. A week before the draft, Gettleman and the Panthers rescinded the franchise tag offer they had given to Norman. Norman subsequently signed a five-year deal with the Washington Redskins.
The cornerbacks that Carolina drafted in 2016 have not fared well in their careers to this point. Second-rounder James Bradberry and third-rounder Daryl Worley were both given “poor” grades by Pro Football Focus for the 2017 season. Fifth rounder Zack Sanchez was cut before the 2017 season began. Needless to say, those players are nowhere near as good as Norman was when he was an All-Pro in 2015.
Gettleman has rightly been criticized for drafting those cornerbacks with three consecutive picks. There were better players on the board, and he seemed to be desperate to replace Norman. Bradberry and Worley could both improve in the coming years, but for right now neither one of them looks to be a good NFL starting cornerback. The Panthers secondary was torched by Drew Brees for 376 yards and 2 touchdowns in the New Orleans Saints’ Wild Card victory over the Panthers last week.
It is too early to try to predict who Gettleman and the Giants front office will select in the upcoming draft. Gettleman never selected a quarterback in any of his five drafts in Carolina, and he does not have any experience in having a selection as high as the second overall pick. As a result, I think he will decide to trade down and add some draft picks in the middle rounds of the draft. Only one thing is for certain: The Giants have a lot of needs. Trading down would give the Giants an opportunity to fill needs and boost the team’s depth.
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