How New York Giants Have Incorporated a "Team First" Mantra in the Draft Process

The Giants have made a lot of changes internally when it comes to the draft, but none bigger than the involvement of head coach Joe Judge and his staff in providing direction into the type of players they want.
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New York Giants head coach Joe Judge has continuously preached "team first" since arriving in East Rutherford.

That "team first" mentality doesn't just begin and end in the locker room; it also extends to the dealings of the front office and general manager Dave Gettleman in what Gettleman has described as a "collaborative" effort that has worked well thus far in Judge's short tenure as head coach.

“I have this crazy idea that we should collaborate and this crazy idea we should bring in players that fit coaches' schemes,” Gettleman said during his annual pre-draft video call with reporters Thursday. “So (Judge) is obviously very involved."

To put it another way, Gettleman and his staff are like a matchmaker who scours through countless eligible candidates to find the right people the coaches want—their “dream players,” if you will.

And a big difference for this regime is that Judge and his staff have not only embraced the chance to provide feedback, but they also come into draft meetings prepared and knowing what they want.

“The best part is the direction and, and him and his staff explaining the type of player they're looking for,” Gettleman said. “At the end of the day, that’s the biggest change. The biggest direction is with the linebackers. Very frankly, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, back-end guys, front end guys—they’re all the same. It's really the linebacker fit. And the versatility we're looking for with certain players.”

In addition to talent, there is also a matter of how the player potentially fits into the locker room. Judge has made it crystal clear that anyone who sets foot in the Giant locker room better have a “team first” mentality; otherwise, it doesn’t matter how talented the player might be.

But with the challenges on the scouting community still in place because of the global pandemic, doing the old-fashioned research that included visiting college campuses and speaking with just about everyone who has ever come in contact with a prospect is currently in the past.

  • Related: Dave Gettleman explains in the video above how he's tried to trade back in drafts and why it's never come to fruition.

But director of college scouting Chris Pettit said he feels good about the work the Giants have done in getting to know those players they might be considering in next week’s draft.

“What we did was really leading up to the pro days is we kind of simulated what we would normally do for our formal interviews,” Pettit said. “We did that with the coaching staff and the personnel staff—that’s where you really get the information where you get to meet them.”

That process has Pettit feeling confident in what he and the rest of the staff have managed to uncover.

“We've done endless amount of Zooms,” he said. “You're allowed five Zooms. We've talked to these guys once we're allowed to, and the scouts have been working the phone lines just to get to know them so we can sit there and we really truly know. And then also our coach is doing it, reaching out to the college coaches as well, going back, being thorough.”

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That kind of meticulous preparation is going to be essential when the Giants' decision-makers assemble in their scaled-down war room next week to announce the newest Giants. 

And while at the end of the day, it boils down to what takes place on the field, there is certainly a high amount of confidence that the second draft class of the Joe Judge era should be another productive one.

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