Carl Banks, the last linebacker the Giants drafted in the first round 36 long years ago, would embrace Dave Gettleman ending the streak with Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons … but he recognizes the need to keep Daniel Jones safe and sound at the same time with one of the elite offensive tackles.
“I think they have a great dilemma at No. 4,” Banks told The Post. “Unfortunately, they earned the right to be there, but they have a great dilemma.”
“If they pick an offensive lineman, I will completely understand the logic, and be all for the move,” Banks said. “Selfishly, if they take Simmons, I would be excited that they have such a skill set on the roster.”
A multifaceted, playmaking skill set that Big Blue has not had since seemingly forever.
“I have no doubt in my mind that they would maximize his skill set,” Banks said. “Wherever he’s most effective from down to down is where I think a team that’s smart would use him and make sure that he’s impactful every single down.”
Simmons is capable of raising the level of a defense.
“But the thing that you have to have in place, when you have a guy with a multiple skill set that you want to completely take advantage of, you gotta make sure you have other players in place too,” Banks said, “because if moving him around makes you weaker in another area, then you’re not really better for doing it. And you don’t want to get stuck with having him in one place because you can’t afford to move him somewhere else because you don’t have the personnel to do it.”
Banks was asked if the Giants would have enough players around Simmons.
“It’s not for me to comment on right now,” he said. “They don’t have a complete roster yet. I think they’ve got a defensive coordinator [Patrick Graham] who’s smart enough and understands concepts and talent and how they work together to make use of a guy like that if they were to take him.”
On the other hand, the Giants lack long-term answers at both tackle positions, and it is past time for Gettleman to fix the offensive line.
“My philosophy in that is that you have to protect the most valuable asset on your football team,” Banks said, “and there’s no disputing that the most valuable asset on that football team is the quarterback. And there’s also no disputing that they have left the transition period, and this is the quarterback of their future, barring injury. So, with that being said, what is your investment in his future? A group that can be with this quarterback from 2020-29. Because that’s what the really good offensive lines and quarterbacks do — they get a group together, and they’re pretty much together for a while in today’s NFL if you can get ’em like that … you get five years with these guys before you have to think about re-signing ’em.”
Could Gettleman possibly have his cake and eat it too if he values a leftover tackle enough with the 36th pick to grab Simmons at 4?
“I don’t have data that says what the tackle class looks like beyond the top four names mentioned,” Banks said. “They have data on that, so they may be able to have the best of both worlds, who knows?”
Banks was the third pick of the 1984 draft out of Michigan State by then-GM George Young.
“It’s great that they picked a first-rounder that didn’t suck,” Banks cracked. “If you look at where Jessie Armstead [Round 8, 1993] was selected, and I’d put his career up against anybody that was drafted higher than him. So it’s not a matter of the first linebacker taken since Carl Banks was drafted in ’84; it doesn’t matter. I’m just glad I didn’t suck. That would be another footnote, you know what I mean?”
Banks was surprised the Giants drafted him to join Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson and Brad Van Pelt — until the summer, when Young traded Van Pelt.
“I had no idea they were even interested,” he said.
Banks was unheralded until earning MVP honors in the Blue-Gray Game and was surreptitiously eyeballed at the Senior Bowl by then-Giants coach Bill Parcells.
“He wouldn’t let anybody know he was watching me because of his success with Lawrence,” Banks said. “[Cowboys executive] Gil Brandt kinda fell in love with some of the things I was doing with their testing, so I knew that was one team that liked me, and I think the Kansas City Chiefs was another team that had expressed interest.”
Banks, 6-foot-4, 235-pounds, was in the office of Spartans coach George Perles watching the draft on television when then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle announced it.
“I went, ‘Oh wow, cool,’ ” Banks said. “Perles told me that I would be a first-round draft choice, so when I was selected by the Giants, he said: ‘Didn’t I tell you your hard work was gonna pay off?’ ”
Banks’ Welcome-to-the-NFL moment happened shortly after the draft on his first day in the building when he introduced himself to Carson and Taylor: “Hey Mr. Taylor, hey Mr. Carson.”
That’s when Carson asked the rookie: “What are you gonna do to get on the field?”
Banks corrected: “What the hell are you gonna do to get on the field?”
He did plenty, and quickly, and blossomed into a 1980s All-Decade player and two-time Super Bowl champion with a legitimate Hall of Fame argument.
“I don’t pat myself on the back, but I was a complete, dominant football player,” Banks said. “I dominated it when I did.”
Asked what enabled him to be so dominant, Banks joked: “Peer pressure? Honestly, my first day at practice, Lawrence Taylor practiced faster than I ever played at Michigan State. But No. 2 is being trusted with the responsibility of being on the field with him, and raising your level to a level that was acceptable to him.”
Either scenario — Simmons or a blue-chip tackle — would excite him.
“Absolutely,” Banks said.