Fans are usually excited by the prospect of their favorite team trading up in the first round of the NFL draft. For supporters of the New York Giants, the previous statement is especially true since Big Blue currently sits in no-man's land in the first round with the 19th pick.
The hard reality, however, is that the Giants are not going to better their first-round draft position due to what history tells us and the fact that trading up is not in the best interests of the team.
New York has traded up in the first round only three times in the 77-year history of the draft—none of which have come during Jerry Reese's tenure as general manager.
The last time was back in 2004. After selecting Philip Rivers with the fourth overall pick, the Giants traded up to grab San Diego's first overall pick in exchange for Rivers, their third-round pick and a first- and fifth-rounder in 2005. The boatload of assets the Giants sent to the Chargers was well worth it because Eli Manning was the prize they received in return.
The Giants also moved up in the first round two years before, though barely, when they traded a fourth-rounder to Tennessee to go from 15th to 14th to ensure they would get Jeremy Shockey. Big Blue received atrocious production from the tight end position the year before, as Dan Campbell led the team in 2001 with 148 yards receiving, so guaranteeing it would get Shockey by making this trade was a no-brainer for the organization.
While Shockey battled injuries and a bad attitude in his six seasons with Big Blue, his play on the field as a Giant suggests this draft-day move was a success. Shockey had 4,228 yards receiving and 27 TDs in his Giants tenure.
The only other time Big Blue moved up in the first round, according to SI.com, was in 2001. That year, New York swapped the 30th pick with Indianapolis' 22nd to grab Will Allen. In exchange for moving up eight spots, the team had to part with its third- and sixth-round picks in that draft.
The Giants were very high on Allen that year, partly because of his talent and partly because one of their starting cornerbacks, Dave Thomas, was a clear weak link in their secondary. The slow-footed Thomas had a propensity to get beaten deep and was past his prime at 32 years old.
This move didn't turn out nearly as well as the Eli Manning trade. Allen was an adequate cornerback in his five years with the team, but certainly not worth a first-round selection that cost two draft picks to acquire.
To make matters worse, the Colts chose Reggie Wayne with the 30th pick. New York was not targeting a wide receiver early in that draft, with Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard entrenched as starters, but trading arguably a future Hall of Famer for Allen can't feel too good.
While history clearly doesn't suggest the Giants will improve their first-round draft position, Reese may consider moving up if it clearly would improve the roster and make them a better team.
Each of the times the Giants have moved up, they have either done so to shore up a clear weakness or to get what they perceived was a franchise-changing player (which they did in the Eli Manning trade).
The latter is not even worth considering in this draft. The Giants are still set at quarterback with Manning at the helm, and with rare exceptions, this is the only position that truly alters the course of a franchise.
The former doesn't apply, either, since the Giants don't really have a clear weakness to address and there isn't an obvious player to address it with.
Sure, the linebacker position could be improved, but the same can be said for cornerback, right tackle or even safety. Trading later-round picks, which is normally the price to pay for moving up in the first round, doesn't make much sense when those picks could be used to address these weaknesses.
The Giants would probably strongly consider taking linebacker Alec Ogletree if he is available at 19. They aren't going to trade up to get him, though, when they could take cornerback Xavier Rhodes, right tackle D.J. Fluker or safety Matt Elam (the latter is highly unlikely with all the money they have invested in Stevie Brown and Antrelle Rolle in 2013).
There is a unique situation, however, in this draft that does somewhat support the "moving up" theory.
It is no secret New York loves defensive ends. With Osi Umenyiora now in Atlanta, New York could replace him with Ziggy Ansah, who many consider comparable to Jason Pierre-Paul. How could the Giants resist the chance to have two JPPs on the same team?
Well, for starters, most draft experts have Ansah going to the Detroit Lions, who own the fifth pick in the draft. In order for the Giants to guarantee getting Ansah, much like they did 11 years ago with Shockey, they would have to trade up to the fourth pick. That is going to take multiple later-round picks and future draft picks or a player on their roster, based on what history tells us.
With New York not in desperate need of a defensive end (Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck), especially with the flexibility to move Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end permanently, they are not going to sacrifice numerous assets to secure Ansah.
While talk of moving up in the draft is always fun, conversation is all it will amount to this year.
Staying put in the first round is what the Giants almost always do and it is what they will do again on April 25th because it is in the best interest of the team.
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