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He does not know who Dave Gettleman will ultimately sign off on as the No. 11 overall pick Thursday night in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but Greg Gabriel has an idea what the general manager of the Giants is looking for with this pick.
This is the insight from one longtime NFL personnel man about another.
“Chemistry is very important in his mind,’’ Gabriel told The Post. “It’s team building, you’ve got to have the right people in the locker room. And you got to rely on your scouts to get you that proper information so you know you’re getting the right people in the locker room.’’
Getting the right people in the locker room was part of the job description for Gabriel, and Gettleman, when they worked together for four years (1998-2001) with the Giants. Gettleman, 70, and Gabriel, who turns 70 in early May, are lifers when it comes to evaluating players. Gettleman has more than 30 years of experience as an NFL scout and executive. Gabriel was in the NFL for 30 years (17 with the Giants), was the scouting director for the Bears for nine years and most recently was the personnel director of the D.C. Defenders in the XFL before it shut down.
“I’ve known Dave for close to 40 years,’’ Gabriel said. “Number one, he’s a good friend and I know he’s a very good evaluator.’’
Gabriel has not talked specifically about this particular draft with Gettleman, but he certainly has an understanding of the way the man making the call for the Giants thinks at times like this. He could see Gettleman signing off on Rashawn Slater if the offensive lineman from Northwestern is available. He could also see the Giants going for receivers Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith. The top defensive player on the Giants’ draft board? Maybe, but the lean here is for more offense to help Daniel Jones.
“Rule number one, protect the quarterback,’’ Gabriel said. “Rule number two, get him weapons. They got [Jones] a number-one wide receiver in free agency [Kenny Golladay]. The draft is also very deep at the wide receiver position, so they can get a receiver that is very good later in the draft. If a top offensive lineman is there that might be the direction they go.’’
Front office executives always insist their draft boards are not wish lists and that the “best player available’’ approach is not watered down by the strengths and weaknesses of their roster. This sounds good and often is true, but not always.
“I don’t know exactly how they set their board now but subconsciously you always set up things according to need,’’ Gabriel said. “You push a guy up a little higher, maybe, because of the need. They took a tackle [Andrew Thomas] last year, could they take another tackle? It never hurts.’’
Gabriel recalled in 1988, when he was with the Giants, they took offensive tackle Eric Moore out of Indiana in the first round and came back in the second round with another Big Ten tackle, Jumbo Elliott, from Michigan.
“And that was our line for years,’’ he said. “I don’t think the kid from Oregon [Penei Sewell] or the kid from Northwestern will make it to the Giants. I think they’re going to have their choice of good receivers, they’re gonna have probably a real good edge rusher available to them, they’re going to have some good people.’’
It remains to be seen if the Giants value any of the edge rushers of this draft class as worthy of the No. 11 pick.
As for the receivers, Ja’Marr Chase of LSU figures to be gone and there is a chance Smith and Waddle could be, as well. Gabriel is not concerned with how lean Smith is — weighing in at 166 pounds at the NFL medical combine in Indianapolis — believing “he’s gonna get bigger.’’
The guess is Gettleman will ultimately go receiver in the first round. Which one?
“Golladay is gonna be their number one and I like him, he runs well but he’s still not your proverbial home run,’’ Gabriel said. “Do they have a true home run guy? Not really. That would tell me Waddle.’’
If that is the case, Gettleman — who, all things being equal, prefers big guys — will opt for a small guy. He is always quick to remind everyone it is not his pick, but the Giants’ pick.
“It’s never any one guy’s opinion,’’ Gabriel said. “It’s not just Dave’s opinion. Chris Mara [vice president of player evaluation] is involved, the college director is involved, the area scouts are involved. It’s a collective opinion.’’
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