The New York Giants have been recycling a poor rebuilding strategy the past few years under the leadership of Dave Gettleman. Failing to execute strong drafts, Gettleman was forced to overspend in free agency, an unsustainable practice that eventually destroyed the team’s cap space and pushed them to restructure multiple contracts to find more money to play with.
However, any modern general manager will tell you that building to the draft is a priority. However, it is easier said than done to find players who can make an impact, especially after the first round.
When assistant general manager of the Buffalo Bills, Joe Schoen, joined their ranks in 2017, the organization began knocking the draft out of the park. The year after Schoen was hired, the Bills landed Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmonds, Wyatt Teller, and several other impact players. In fact, looking back, it was one of the best draft classes out of any team, a year where the Giants selected Saquon Barkley 2nd overall. Just five spots back, the Bills landed their franchise quarterback.
Hitting on first-round talents is the easy part for most teams in terms of probability, but finding gems in the mid-rounds is where managers make their money. The Bills have snagged players like Dawson Knox, Jaquan Johnson, Gabriel Davis, Zack Moss, Spencer Brown, and many more effective players.
Schoen made it known after the Giants hired him that building through the draft would be a priority, which is the perfect strategy for a team that has plugged holes with big free-agent signings year after year.
“I would prefer to build through the draft. Those players are mostly cost-controlled for the first four or five years. They’re cheaper than what you’re going to be able to get on the street in free agency. You get to do the most research on them. You get to go to the schools, you get to see them play live in a game, you get to talk to their coaches, you get to work them out, you get to do a medical on them. So, I think you have a better feeling for the college guys when you turn in the card, who they are as players, medically what you’re getting, where in free agency a lot of times you’re paying a lot of money and you don’t necessarily always know what you’re getting, you don’t know the injury history, necessarily. You don’t know their practice habits. You don’t know what type of workers they are, what they’re like off the field. I’d prefer to build through the draft, develop those players and retain our own.”
One of the most underrated comments from this quote is how Schoen loves to build his own players and retain them on extensions. When you bring in foreign guys to plug holes, sometimes you don’t know what you’re getting in terms of personality and character. The strategy of molding young talent and keeping them around is a key factor in success.