Giants reportedly looking at QBs in draft, but there are many more layers to situation

Giants reportedly looking at QBs in draft, but there are many more layers to situation

There are times when good franchises struggle. The Giants are a good franchise and they are struggling, for a variety of reasons. Poor draft selections combined with injuries (Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall) combined with a defense that has been unable to replicate its success from 2016 have left the G-Men in dire straights. Complicating matters is the age (37) of franchise quarterback Eli Manning and the likelihood of landing a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft

The Giants will likely need to look at quarterbacks, and according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the front office was given a “directive” from owner John Mara several weeks ago to do just that.

The impetus for Mara’s demand was the injury to Odell Beckham, which essentially KO’d the Giants season before it really began. Without Beckham, the offense completely sputtered and stalled out.

New York looking at a quarterback should not be a surprise. Manning is old and this is the rare opportunity to snag a quarterback with a high pick. But there are some interesting layers to unfold here. Let’s look at them.

Who will be in the front office?

This is the biggest question for me. GM Jerry Reese is only mentioned once in the story by Raanan, and that’s only to reference his quote about Eli being on the “back nine” of his career. Reese is the guy who got the Giants in this mess in the first place; some could question if it’s prudent to let him try and wriggle the Giants out of it by selecting a quarterback near the top of the draft. Davis Webb was taken with a third-round pick last year, and no one’s sure what he can bring to the table yet. There might actually be a need to play him this year. 

It is hard to imagine Ben McAdoo surviving this mess, given how badly his team appears to have quit on him. Does Reese get to pick the next coach as well? If I run the Giants, the team is getting hit with a full-blown reset. New GM, new coach and a discussion with Eli about the final stretch of his career (more on that in a second). 

It’s not hard to imagine a situation where Reese convinces Mara to let him make one more run with the current ensemble. Maybe there isn’t a good enough quarterback at the top (also more on that in a second). Maybe Reese can convince Mara that adding someone like Saquon Barkley, the dynamic and explosive running back out of Penn State, with a high pick will let the Giants do what the Cowboys and Jaguars did over the past two years, reinvigorating the run game and becoming a defense-based contender. 

Beckham will be back next year, and will be getting a long-term contract at some point. Squint hard enough and you can see a scenario where the Giants eschew taking a quarterback high, draft a running back, get better play from the offensive line and try to make a run.

What to do with Eli?

It’s easy to say “trade or cut Eli” because that’s a simple “solution.” It’s really not easy in practice and it isn’t a solution. The Giants with a rookie quarterback this year would be an even bigger disaster. Next year could be a mess too. Manning also has a pretty hefty contract in 2018, with a $22.2 million cap hit and $12.4 million in dead cap space. They could designate him a post-June 1 cut and spread that hit over 2018 and 2019 while also saving $16 million in cap space for the 2018 season. 

Maybe it’s foolish, but it feels like the Giants franchise will want to part ways with Eli in an amicable fashion. It doesn’t feel like Eli is going to push it until he’s 43. At 37, with two Super Bowl rings and a likely Hall of Fame induction coming his way, he could talk to Mara about the aforementioned scenario where he comes back in 2018 — except this time the Giants draft a quarterback who sits while Eli wraps up his career — and trying to make one more run before retiring after 2018. Maybe Eli is willing to go somewhere else. He just feels like a guy who should be a lifetime Giants player. 

The reason that might be dumb? Peyton Manning felt the same way with the Colts. Brett Favre with the Packers, etc. But maybe the comp is Tony Romo, who declined to play for another franchise and took the NFL on CBS route, leaving the game as a Cowboys lifer. 

Are there good enough QBs in the draft?

According to Raanan, the Giants are looking at multiple quarterbacks in the draft, doing their due diligence on all the young guys available. There’s no question there is talent in the draft, but there are legitimate questions about who will be available. 

USC’s Sam Darnold is widely considered the top quarterback prospect in the draft, but he has had some major hiccups this season (although he played very well this past week). He might not also leave: there are a lot of different rumblings about Darnold wanting to stay at USC for another season. It would not be shocking if he wanted to wait until 2019 draft and come back. 

CBS Sports NFL Draft writer Chris Trapasso released a new 2018 NFL Mock Draft on Wednesday morning and he has the Giants picking No. 3 (where they would pick now, after the 49ers and the Browns). And at that third spot, he has New York taking Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State. The system is maybe a question for Rudolph, but he can make the throws down the field; Rudolph’s eye-popping stats have slowed down a bit since injuries ravaged his offensive line. (Which, um, might be a red flag for the Giants.) 

Interestingly, Rudolph is the second quarterback in Trapasso’s draft, behind NC State’s Ryan Finley, who was “taken” by the Browns at No. 2 in this scenario. Finley’s another guy who could be a fit for New York, although going as a top-five pick would certainly be an against-the-grain selection at this point in time for Finley. Admittedly I watch a lot of Finley — that’s higher than I expect to see, but he is a really good quarterback. If he leaves, the draft process could be good to him. He would actually be a great fit in McAdoo’s system too, for whatever that’s worth.

Raanan notes that Josh Rosen (UCLA), Josh Allen (Wyoming), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Rudolph are all names being bandied about among the Giants scouting department. He points out that “Rosen (personality) and Allen (level of competition) also come with questions” while “Jackson and Mayfield are non-traditional quarterbacks.”

Evaluating quarterbacks is hard! The Giants haven’t had to since 2004, which is the last time they held a top-five pick in the draft and also the last time they drafted a quarterback in the first round. That was when they selected … Philip Rivers, and swung him to the Chargers in exchange for Manning. 

Mara knows all too well how bad things can happen in this league without a quarterback. He’s been fortunate to have one of the more stable situations in the NFL over the past decade plus. The Giants haven’t had to worry about finding a quarterback in that stretch. Until now. 


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