Jerry Reese admitted he has spent more time looking at quarterbacks in this year’s draft in search of an eventual replacement for Eli Manning than he has in recent seasons as general manager of the Giants, and he did not rule out selecting someone to fill that role in the first round of next week’s selection process.

“You just take the best player available and however he fits on roster [you figure it out],” Reese said on Thursday at his annual pre-draft news conference. “If you take a quarterback high, if you take him in the seventh round, wherever you take him, you hope that everything falls right for them. If they have to play, you hope it is the right time for them to play. But if you are worrying about when is he going to play, when is he not going to play, you might miss out on the right player. You just have to take the best player available.”

For most of the past decade and a half, that has not included quarterbacks. The last time the Giants drafted one was in 2013 when they picked Ryan Nassib and Reese said at the time that he hoped the young passer would never have to play.

With Manning at age 36, if the Giants take a quarterback this year, especially in the first few rounds, it will be a different story.

This draft class would seem to lend itself to the needs of the Giants, who are not looking for an immediate starter. Most of the analysis of the quarterbacks says that they are talented but not quite ready to step onto an NFL field right away.

“Who knows what will happen?” Reese said. “If you draft a quarterback in the first or second round, if Eli gets hurt and we don’t have a quarterback that is ready to go and you have a quarterback on the roster, you have to get them ready to play. That is the coaches’ job to do that. It is our job to have somebody waiting in the wings to play, so you just never know.”

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Reese pointed to the Cowboys last season as an example of young players exceeding expectations.

“Last year [Dak] Prescott got picked and people didn’t regard him highly and he played tremendous,” he said. “He was at the right place at the right time, got the right opportunity and he did a very nice job for them.”

Ideally, even if the Giants do take a quarterback, he’ll have time to watch and learn behind Manning.

“We think that Eli has some good years left to play for us and we are trying to put good people around him as well,” Reese said.

Around him and behind him, too.