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Trader Dave struck again.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who entered this NFL draft having never executed a draft-day trade, was back in the wheel-and-deal business on Friday night.
One day after trading back nine spots in the first round and acquiring a haul from the Bears, Gettleman traded back eight spots in the second round and still picked the edge rusher the Giants coveted in Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari.
Then he traded up five spots in the third round and picked Central Florida cornerback Aaron Robinson, a physical press-cover cornerback who should factor in the slot.
“I’m sure Dave has a concussion,’’ Giants head coach Joe Judge joked Friday night. “We’ll have him checked out tonight.’’
Chris Pettit, the Giants director of college scouting, acknowledged there’s “been a little bit of ribbing’’ of Gettleman in the team’s war room for his sudden transformation into the NFL’s version of iconic “Let’s Make a Deal’’ host Monty Hall.
“We were busy,’’ Gettleman said with his patented sarcastic humor.
To review: With their three picks in the first three rounds, the Giants addressed three separate needs — another playmaker at receiver for quarterback Daniel Jones with first-round pick Kadarius Toney, cornerback and edge rusher, which arguably is the team’s most pressing need.
Lawrence Taylor. Michael Strahan. Justin Tuck. Osi Umenyiora. Jason Pierre-Paul.
Is it possible the Georgia edge rusher the Giants selected with the 50th-overall pick becomes the next great sack master on a team that used to be defined by dominant pass rushers?
From Gettleman’s pick to God’s ears.
Pass rushing has been one of the most glaring needs the sad-sack Giants have been saddled with since Pierre-Paul was shipped to Tampa in 2018. The Giants’ sack production, once a proud franchise tradition, has been borderline anemic the past few years.
The Giants had 40 sacks last season, but 11.5 of them came from interior lineman Leonard Williams. They had 36 sacks in 2019, 30 in 2018 and 17 in 2017.
The lack of sacks has been enough to make LT, perhaps the greatest edge rusher of all time, want to donate some of the 132.5 he accumulated in his brilliant career back to this team.
The Giants’ current outside linebacker corps combined for 2.5 sacks last season. That number was frighteningly low in part because two projected starters — Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines — missed most of the season due to injuries.
Both are expected back in 2021, but neither had proven himself to be any sort of pass-rushing force before getting hurt.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants’ top four pressure grades all came from interior defensive linemen. Williams had 62 pressures, Dexter Lawrence had 29, Dalvin Tomlinson had 28 and B.J. Hill had 22. Kyler Fackrell, who was second on the team to Williams in sacks with four but is no longer with the team, had the most pressures of any linebacker with a mere 19.
This brings us to the 6-foot-2, 249-pound Ojulari, who had 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles last season for Georgia. He had 6.5 of those sacks in the final six games. Ojulari had 18.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and five forced fumbles combined the last two years. Pro Football Focus credited him with 15 quarterback hits and 45 hurries the last two years and 35 pressures in 2020 alone.
The Giants, in an effort to address the pass rush before the draft as they did with receiver and cornerback, were in the market to sign Leonard Floyd at the start of free agency, but Floyd re-signed with the Rams for more money.
Now they’ll hope Ojulari injects some life into their pass rush.
“I’ve got good speed, strength and power to beat the guy off the edge and I can affect the quarterback,’’ Ojulari said. “I’m ready to work and contribute.’’
He also is ready to one day add his name to the list of those distinguished Giants pass rushers.
“I’ve got to come in ready to work, put it on the table and give it all I’ve got for the great guys that played before me,’’ he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for all of those players.’’
Now it’s time for opposing offenses to respect the Giants pass rush.
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