West Virginia QB Will Grier celebrates after the game against...

West Virginia QB Will Grier celebrates after the game against the Texas Longhorns on November 3, 2018 in Austin, Texas. Credit: Getty Images/Tim Warner

You will not see him linked to the upper tier of quarterbacks in a draft that could feature as many as four first-round passers. Nope, Will Grier is an afterthought in the conversations about the elite — a group that includes Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, Missouri’s Drew Lock, Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State, Daniel Jones of Duke and Ryan Finley of North Carolina State.

Fine with Grier. It still doesn’t change his opinion about how he compares with his draft-class peers.

“I feel like I’m the best quarterback in this draft,” he said.

He’d have the same take if he came into the 2018 draft with the likes of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson.

“I would have felt that way if I came out last year,” he said. “I’m very confident in my abilities.”

Say hello to the outlier quarterback in this year’s draft.

The former West Virginia star has taken a circuitous path to this point, having started off what appeared to be a promising career at Florida before being suspended for taking the banned over-the-counter substance Ligandrol, which ran afoul of college football’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Rather than return to play for the Gators, Grier transferred to West Virginia to play for coach Dana Holgersen. He was required to sit out the 2016 season because of transfer rules but flourished his next two seasons under Holgersen’s quarterback-friendly offense.

“He gave me a second chance,” Grier said. “It was very cool learning from him. The guy is passionate for the game. It’s really cool to be around somebody that passionate for offense and for the game that was willing to let me hang out all the time and pick his brain.”

Grier’s accuracy, mobility and football smarts certainly line up with Giants coach Pat Shurmur’s offense, although it’s uncertain whether Grier, and not one of the other more highly touted quarterbacks will be the choice as Eli Manning’s successor. He also has been mentioned as a potential successor to the Patriots’ Tom Brady, who turns 42 in August.

Wherever he plays, Grier, 24, will bring a joie de vivre that few quarterbacks possess. It’s borne of his natural passion for the game, but also from his life experience. One of them is raising a young family; Grier and his wife, Jeanne, have a 2-year-old daughter.

“Obviously having a wife and a daughter is a huge responsibility,” he said. “I did it at the college level, where you’re obviously playing football. You add the priority and responsibility of a daughter and having a wife that you not only provide for, but I want to be a good husband and father. I take pride in waking up every day and getting my responsibilities done for that day and make sure that everybody I owe it to is getting my all.”

Grier’s appreciation for football grew exponentially during the time he couldn’t play because of the suspension.

“I’ve been through some adversity where I didn’t have football,” he said. “Having it back gives you an appreciation for every snap you can take. I’m just blessed to have that opportunity.”

In taking a path less traveled, Grier is now ready for the next stage of the journey, namely a quality NFL career. He believes that is exactly what will happen, even if others believe it’s a long shot. Grier trusts that coaches will see the combination of arm strength, accuracy, mobility and football intelligence as the right stuff for success.

As for the increased pressure of performing in the NFL, Grier welcomes the challenge.

“I don’t get nervous,” he said. “I don’t feel pressure. Those are the times I prepare for my whole life. My level of play rises in those moments. I want the ball in my hands to get the first down or go get the touchdown, whatever we need to win the game. I deliver when it matters. When the game is on the line, I want the ball.”

He’s about to get the chance to prove he deserves to have it once more.

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