Giants' Dave Gettleman explains wearing mask during virtual NFL draft

Dave Gettleman stays safe with mask (0:20)

Dave Gettleman is cautious after the Giants' pick of Andrew Thomas by putting on a mask. He'd later explain that an IT worker was in the house with him. (0:20)

The sight of New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman wearing a mask while sitting alone in his draft room might be one of the lasting images from Thursday night's unique, stay-at-home NFL draft, the result of the coronavirus pandemic shutting down the country.

Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the picks from his basement. Players were, for the most part, at home, gathered in relatively small groups. Coaches and general managers conducted business from their homes, communicating remotely in rooms filled with monitors.

The ESPN broadcast showed Gettleman from his house in New Jersey, putting on a mask just moments after the Giants selected Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 overall pick. That Gettleman, 69, wore the mask while in isolation made for easy jokes as pictures circulated around the internet.

But there were reasons for the mask.

"Well, I have a young IT fellow over here with me," Gettleman said. "And we're social distancing. Part of it is the mask. I'm fine."

Gettleman is a cancer survivor, having been treated for lymphoma two years ago. And the Giants had Ty Siam, a member of the team's football operations and data analytics department, at Gettleman's house to make sure the draft ran smoothly.

The Giants' pick seemed to go off without a hitch. Gettleman even seemed to engage in plenty of conversations with others around the league about a potential trade down from No. 4, which the Giants were hoping to execute.

Gettleman said there were "no firm offers," only conversations that didn't ultimately prove fruitful.

"Not much there," said Gettleman, who has still never traded down in a draft as general manager. This is his eighth draft in that role, including his years with the Carolina Panthers.

The Giants stayed put and selected Thomas, a first-team All-American at Georgia last season. He was ESPN draft insider Mel Kiper Jr.'s third-ranked offensive tackle, behind Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. and Iowa's Tristan Wirfs.

Wills was drafted 10th by the Cleveland Browns and Wirfs 13th by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Giants had Thomas as their top tackle all along, a source told ESPN. They were also believed to be high on Wirfs. But Thomas was their No. 1.

While the player might have been a bit surprising, the position was not. The Giants were intent on protecting their investment in their past two first-round picks, quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. Gettleman was insistent on fixing a problem that has plagued the franchise for years.

"We want to fix this offensive line once and for all," he said.

Gettleman had selected only one offensive tackle in his first two drafts with the Giants. That pick was George Asafo-Adjei, a seventh-rounder last year who is no longer on the roster. The Giants are also expected to address the center position at some point in this year's draft.

They're hoping Thomas is a big part of the solution. He is expected to be given a shot to start at left or right tackle.

Thomas' experience and success against high-level competition was something Gettleman and coach Joe Judge thought separated him from the other prospects. They also saw Thomas' length as a defining feature. He has 36⅛-inch arms, the longest of the top four tackles in the draft. It matters to Thomas that he was the first of the tackles off the board.

"Definitely," he said. "I work hard every day to be the best. I don't understand why you play this game if you don't want to be the best. So I think that is something."