Fast forward a couple of months to April 26th 2018. AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas. The New York Giants are on the clock. They have their first top-3 pick since 1984, where they selected linebacker Carl Banks. Boos ring out as Roger Goodell enters stage left.
“With the 3rd pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the New York Giants select…”
Saquon Barkley? Sam Darnold? Josh Rosen?
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself, the season is far from finished and the draft many months away. But still the question remains, who will the Giants select with their first round pick?
The answer to that question starts with the current quarterback situation for New York. The 3rd round pick a year ago, Davis Webb, is waiting patiently on the sideline, as Eli Manning continues to throw to anyone not named Odell Beckham Jr. As of writing this, Manning is playing…okay? He’s playing as well as anyone with practice only squad wide receivers, can be expected to play. Eli will be back in 2018, regardless of whatever happens in the draft. That I am certain of. Him and Odell have some unfinished business.
Back to Davis Webb. The Giants only used a 3rd round pick on the 6ft 5 signal caller, out of Cal. That doesn’t seem like the front office is 100% all in on Webb being the future quarterback of the franchise. It was a safe pick. Let him sit and develop behind Manning for a couple of years and then re-evaluate whether or not is the guy, further down the line. If the Giants were committed to drafting Eli’s replacements in 2017, then it would’ve made more sense trading up in the 1st or 2nd to go after one of the likes of; Watson, Kizer, Mahomes or Trubisky.
Prior to the draft, I watched tape on a couple of the quarterbacks and I remember not being blown away by Webb. It was clear he didn’t have the cannon arm of a Kizer or Mahomes, nor did he have the competitive edge of a Deshaun Watson. He does have good size, coupled with a better than average arm strength, but the biggest concern with Webb is his accuracy. Inability to consistently accurately throw the ball further than 10 yards downfield. His athleticism and mobility is adequate, but nothing to write home about. Besides, as Deshaun Watson is proving, having elite mobility and elusiveness is becoming more and more of a necessity in the NFL. The matchup between Watson and Wilson last weekend showed how the league is moving away from pocket passing era of Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady, and more towards what we saw in Seattle on Sunday. Two quarterbacks doing damage both on the ground and through the air.
Webb showed good signs in the preseason, especially in the final game against the Patriots, where he made some big throws in the closing minute to drive the Giants into field range. Ultimately Webb didn’t see enough time on the field, due to the backup battle between Geno Smith and Josh Johnson.
Now that the playoffs are all but mathematically over, it may be prudent for the Giants to let Webb see some regular season action. Firstly, the Giants have Eli Manning’s health to think about. There is next to no point keeping Manning on the field in the 4th quarter, it the Giants find themselves down a couple of scores on a weekly basis. Secondly, the Giants need to see Webb in action. It would be good to see the chemistry between Webb and the young wide receiver corp, primarily Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Ultimately it will just allow Jerry Reese and co to have a better idea of which direction they will go when the draft comes around.
Draft another QB?
The 2018 draft is promising to be a heavily quarterback stacked class. With names like Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Luke Faulk and Mason Rudolph but to name a few. The recent trade of now former Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers, the Giants find themselves (at this point) potentially being able to draft the number 1 ranked QB, whoever that will be, come April. Unless the Cleveland Browns once more draft a quarterback.
The temptation to draft back-to-back QBs may be too much for Jerry Reese. He may be unable to refuse one of the many talented passers that will be available to him. However, if the Giants see enough upside in Davis Webb and feel 100% confident he can be the future franchise quarterback, then the Giants have a plethora of options open to them.
Saquon Barkley, Offensive Tackle…Trade Down?
If you didn’t know, there is a 20 year old, 5ft11, 235lbs running back at Penn State who is a very, very, very good football player. Speed, power, vision, explosiveness and “receiver” hands, Barkley is an all round complete player. He will be an instant game-changer to any offense. Furthermore the Giants rushing attack is in a serious need of an injection of some explosive fireworks. Barkley brings that, and more.
There isn’t many arguments of not drafting Barkley, but the big one is that without a competent offensive, what is the point of having a game-changing running back? The Giants do not have a competent offensive line. The only compliment I can give is that they are slightly better than they were in 2016, and Justin Pugh has proved to be a very good right-tackle. The upcoming free agent market looks decidedly thin at the offensive line positions, which means the Giants may have to look elsewhere to upgrade the faltering unit. If the Giants fall out of the top 5 picks, their decision to draft Barkley will most certainly be taken out of their hands. They may also be unable to draft one of the top 2 quarterbacks available and this will force their hand to finally, try and hit on that first round offensive tackle, or look to move back in the first.
Trading down could make a lot of sense for the Giants. Jerry Reese could move back, and address the two units that are most in need of an upgrade. Linebacker and Offensive line. Tight-ends are once more having their way against the Giants linebackers, and the unit is in dire need of some depth. Alternatively, the Giants could pick up two offensive linemen in the first round, as with Pugh potentially moving to right-tackle, the guard position looks set to get weaker.
Unfortunately, the Giants still have 9 games to contend with and many more Sundays before the draft comes around. Big Blue continues their season this week, as the reinvigorated Los Angeles Rams travel to New Jersey.
Los Angeles Rams @ New York Giants – 6pm Sunday, Nov 5th.