Seahawks might need to trade down before the Giants do
Seaside Joe 1129: A Mock Study on a team slated to pick twice ahead of Seattle
To know what the Seattle Seahawks are likely to do at pick nine, it’s important to have a sense of what the (for now) seven teams ahead of them are going to do. The one team currently slated ahead of them twice is the New York Giants, a franchise that is starting over at head coach and general manager by becoming “Buffalo Bills NFC East” with their two recent hires.
But as he did in Carolina before New York, former GM Dave Gettleman didn’t just draft poorly and overpay the wrong free agents, he also put the team in financial peril. The Giants are set to pay Leonard Williams, James Bradberry, and Kenny Golladay all more than $21 million in 2022 and the franchise has little cap space remaining (Overthecap.com reflects NEGATIVE $5.7 million in effective cap space, meaning New York must continue to cut costs and that’s why we keep hearing rumors of a Bradberry trade) with which to pay its upcoming rookie class.
As I noted last month when I projected that the Seahawks could be saving as much as $70 million over the next four years by trading Russell Wilson for draft assets, first round picks are not cheap. And top-10 picks are even not-cheaper. The pay for the fifth overall pick in the draft is a $34.7 million contract and a $6.3 million cap hit in 2022, while the seventh overall pick gets $27 million and a $4.9 million cap hit.
(Can we talk for a second about how insane it actually is for a player to get seven million more U.S. dollars than another player because of a rather random set of circumstances that lands him TWO PICKS ahead of another player? Why didn’t players fight to get a more even distribution of cash in the first round? I love the draft, I love team building, but some of these random rules around it remain absolutely fucked.)
Point. Of. Fact…. The Giants don’t have $11.2 million in 2022 cap space.
The Giants need to find $6 million and so if they can’t manage to trade Bradberry—the problem isn’t necessarily his talent, it’s that there aren’t many teams who have $13 million—then they are left with no other choice but to trade one of their first round picks. New York’s desire to trade a 2022 first for a 2023 first is an open secret. And if they manage to make a trade before Seattle has decided to make a move of their own, Pete Carroll and John Schneider could lose necessary leverage in returning the best possible return package for their own draft deal.
Or the Giants stay exactly where they are, pick two prospects that the Seahawks had fallen in love with, and that messes up Seattle’s board and the regime trades down with their wind beneath their wings.
Here’s a “mock study” of the New York Giants regime and what their recent past could tell us about the near future:
Giants picks: 5, 7
GM: Joe Schoen (1st year)
HC: Brian Daboll (1st year)
NEEDS: QB, C, RT, EDGE, LB, S, CB, TE, RB
This is a bad team. And I’m pretty certain that the Giants will still be forced to trade one of their 2022 first round picks for 2023 first round capital—if they can still find it.
The Philadelphia Eagles became the first team to directly exchange 2022 first round capital for 2023 and 2024 picks, and it also means that the New Orleans Saints are one less team that can trade a 2023 first round pick now.
If I were Joe Schoen, I would rather trade pick five than pick seven. The financial difference is significant and the difference in talent value may not be—especially if the team trading up is moving for a quarterback—while the return package would be greater. However, what if Schoen falls in love with a top-three prospect and he falls out of the top-four?
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Which prospects will the Giants be targeting?
This will be Schoen’s first opportunity to run a draft of his own, but he spent 2017-2021 as the assistant GM for the Bills. Schoen started as a Panthers scout in 2001, then became a national scout for the Dolphins in 2008; he was a director of college scouting in 2013, then director of player personnel for Miami from 2014-2016.
The Dolphins 2013 draft ended up with the team trading up nine spots to take edge rusher Dion Jordan out of Oregon with the third overall pick (bookmarked). Miami then picked corner Jamar Taylor in the second, then o-lineman Dallas Thomas and corner Will Davis in the third, both short-career players.
Miami continued to go tackle heavy in the draft from 2014-2016, picking Ja’Waun James and Laremy Tunsil in the first round, and Billy Turner in the third round. The Dolphins also picked several receivers, including DeVante Parker in the first, Jarvis Landry in the second, Leonte Carroo in the third, and Jakeem Grant in the sixth. The Dolphins found Xavien Howard in the second round in 2016, selecting running back Kenyan Drake not long after that.
During his time as assistant GM in Buffalo, the Bills picked CB Tre’Davious White in the first round in 2017, after trading down when KC moved up for Patrick Mahomes. The next year it was QB Josh Allen and ILB Tremaine Edmunds in the first. Then Ed Oliver with the fourth pick in 2019. Then traded for Stefon Diggs in 2020 when the team felt they were really close to the Super Bowl.
If I had to identify any tendencies, coincidental or not because Schoen wasn’t in charge at any of these spots, it would be an emphasis on cornerbacks, wide receivers, tackles, and edge rushers—none of which is especially surprising. But the fact that the Bills traded down in 2017, selected a cornerback, waited to get their quarterback until the next draft, that’s all conveniently fitting for New York’s current situation.
Now I can ask myself, which of these are most-needy for the current Giants roster?
Though Todd McShay recently mocked Garrett Wilson and Drake London going in the top-eight picks, receiver would be surprising in the top-10. Schoen may like those players, but the Giants picked Kadarius Toney in the first round last year and signed Golladay in free agency, so this would seem to be overkill for a reach prospect.
We can rule out receiver.
Which doesn’t help us that much because the top of the first round is guaranteed to have a run on offensive linemen, edge players, and cornerbacks. The Giants picked left tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in 2020 and he got comfortable in that spot last season, but there is still a significant need at right tackle, guard, and center. This makes Icky Ekwonu, Evan Neal, and Trevor Penning all viable possibilities for New York—and they could potentially be had at five or seven.
But offensive line is hardly a guarantee—would Joe Schoen want his first ever draft pick to be a guard? That’s what Ekwonu and Neal could end up being in the NFL.
On a recent episode of the Draft Dudes podcast with Kyle Crabbs and Joe Marino, both analysts said that they have the top three cornerbacks in this class (Derek Stingley, Sauce Gardner, Andrew Booth) rated SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER than Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, and Caleb Farley in 2021.
Schoen saw the Bills draft White in 2017 and he was a year-one impact player who was arguably the best corner in the game in 2019. He saw the Dolphins draft Howard in 2016, and he was an impact player by year two, and then led the NFL in interceptions in both 2018 and 2020. The Giants’ GM needs his “star cornerback” and there are at least two corners in this draft who could go in the top-six.
But let’s not pretend that Joe Schoen is faking his interest in Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The “Thibodeaux is falling” rhetoric feels an awful lot like the “Joey Bosa is falling” talk from 2016. The consensus number one pick for all of 2015, Bosa suddenly became every analysts’ biggest fear and there was conversation that he’d have a significant drop in the draft. He went third overall, and he’s been every bit as good as a first overall pick.
I could see Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker, and two other prospects (Evan Neal? Derek Stingley? Sauce Gardner? Kyle Hamilton?) going ahead of Thibodeaux and leaving Schoen with the chance to pick a player who he might have as the number one overall player on his board.
I believe that the cornerbacks class is deep enough, as is the offensive tackle group, the receivers, and the centers, for Schoen to be able to pick Thibodeaux, trade pick seven, and select starter-level players at 36 and 68.
What will the Giants do?
If the Giants can get an “Eagles-Saints” trade package right now, Joe Schoen would do it. If the Seahawks can get into favorable negotiations with a team before New York does (which sounds reasonable, since John Schneider has 12 more years of experience than Schoen) then perhaps Seattle will gladly drop their position in the draft by 10+ spots in the first round.
This may sound unappealing to the fans who want an “elite prospect” but I don’t think that the Seahawks are in a great position on the board: they’re not high enough to be guaranteed the edge rusher or tackle who they probably value the most and Schneider may see literally no difference between players ranked 5th and 15th on his draft board.
Will the Saints, Steelers, or Packers be aggressive in trying to get into the top-10?
My guess is that Kayvon Thibodeaux couldn’t get past the Giants at five or seven. If Thibodeaux is off the board, then Evan Neal, Sauce Gardner, or Derek Stingley would make the most sense to me. What I would be surprised by is the Giants using both of their first round selections without a trade.
Who would that team be trading up for? In the Seahawks’ best case scenario, a team falls in love with Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis, moves up to five or seven, and pushes a different player one more spot down the draft board. I still expect Seattle to eventually trade out of pick nine anyway, but if quarterbacks and receivers make their way into the top-eight, it could be hard for Schneider and Carroll to walk away from the leftovers.
Giants mock: Kayvon Thibodeaux at 5, a team trades up for Pickett at 7 (one can hope)
It’s also important to preview what the Giants will do ahead of the Seahawks at pick 36 in the second round: I think it’s safe to assume that if tackle isn’t the pick in the first round, that Abe Lucas, Tyler Smith, and Bernhard Raimann become possibilities. If cornerback isn’t the pick, then Kyler Gordon or Roger McCreary or so? It could also be a center like Tyler Linderbaum or Cam Jurgens.
Get your comments in: What would you do if you were the Giants?
I know Rob Stanton is very high on Derek Stingley. I could be very wrong but he doesn't seem like a Pete/John pick. The quickest way to the bench in Seattle as a corner is turning down or missing tackles. This has been the knock on Stingley. I get it LSU wasn't very good for two years and Stingley had injuries. If you can't get jacked up playing at home for LSU that is a large red flag. Or he has known for two years he is a first round pick who was saving his pay day. All conjecture on my part but I just don't see Pete/John going that way even if we traded down to 14. What do you think Kenneth. Victoria Chris