If you're familiar with the New York Giants, you may know a few things about their general manager Dave Gettleman.
You're obviously aware the Giants haven't thrived during his tenure, going 15-33 since the former Carolina Panthers general manager took the helm. You probably remember that Odell Beckham Jr. trade many were quick to criticize. And there are, of course, stories about his fixation on Daniel Jones.
But the one thing Gettleman is most known for among followers of the NFL draft is his perceived refusal to trade back. In the eight drafts Gettleman has handled for the Giants and Panthers, his teams have made 54 selections while not trading back a single time. As ESPN notes, it has "almost become an annual running joke."
Gettleman told reporters on Thursday ahead of next week's NFL draft that he doesn't trade back out of choice, calling it an "urban myth" that he refuses to do it. In fact, he's apparently had some deals just fall through:
Gettleman's full answer:
"I've tried in the past. Honest, I've tried to trade back. But it's got to be value. I'm not getting fleeced. I refuse to do it. If somebody wants to make a bad trade back, God bless them. We've had opportunities, I've tried.
"You have to understand the other piece of this is sometimes you have a trade, and the guy that the team is trading up for gets picked in front of you. We've had that happen to us. We've got a trade, we've got a trade, and so-and-so selects ... 'no trade Dave, goodbye.' And they hang the phone up on me. So that happens too.
"It's almost becoming an urban myth. I've tried, I really have."
In the three drafts Gettleman has called the shots for the Giants, he has taken Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones and Andrew Thomas with his first pick. All three picks have received some measure of second-guessing: Barkley was the highest running back taken since Reggie Bush, Jones was seen as a significant reach and Thomas was one of many available blue-chip OT prospects.
The Giants currently hold the No. 11 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Even if Gettleman says he's willing to trade back, odds are higher he moves into the top 10 rather than trying to squeeze an extra pick out a top-heavy draft.
Trading back in the NFL draft is typically a good strategy
The frustration with the Giants never trading back, by design or not, is that trading back is widely seen as good strategy when handling the draft.
There are obvious exceptions — like, say, top QB prospects — in which no team will trade down, but multiple studies, including one by a Nobel Price-winning economist, have shown teams typically get better value trading down than trading up.
Just look at this quote from Eric DeCosta, general manager of the Baltimore Ravens. Over the last few years (or decades), the Ravens have received praise for finding value in the draft. Is it because they're better at scouting than other teams? Nope, DeCosta says the team simply maximizes quantity in a "luck-driven process."
It's not rocket science. Sure-thing first-rounders can fizzle out and late-round lottery tickets can turn into All-Pros. So many factors decide a player's eventual success in the NFL, and teams can't control many of them. So you might as well get as many bites at the apple as possible.
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