We’ve seen how invaluable it can be for a college quarterback and wide receiver to bring their relationship to the NFL.
Joe Burrow and JaMarr Chase didn’t have to go through the get-to-know-yous on their way to a Super Bowl appearance in their first pro season together with the Bengals. DaVonte Smith helped turn Jalen Hurts, his old Alabama teammate, into a playoff quarterback for the Eagles. The Raiders are trying to capture that kind of chemistry with the acquisition of Devante Adams, pairing him with his old Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. And Miami hopes to turn Jaylen Waddle's 104 receptions from former Crimson Tide running mate Tua Tagovailoa into a trip to the playoffs.
As the Giants consider their own quarterback situation, might they be thinking along the same lines? Only in reverse order?
It’s certainly possible that their selection of Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson was a chess move anticipating the possibility they’ll be selecting Kentucky quarterback Will Levis in the 2023 draft.
Robinson has the credentials to merit being the 43rd overall selection, and he’ll surely be deployed this season in a way intended to help Daniel Jones secure the quarterback job for the foreseeable future. That remains the ideal scenario for the Giants, having Jones win them over this season and keeping him through either a contract extension or the franchise tag next offseason. It also gives them a chance to use next year’s first-round pick on a position other than quarterback. General manager Joe Schoen made the rounds on radio stations here in New York and nationally this week and remained steadfast in his hope that Jones’ play in 2022 will be enough to keep him around.
But the Giants have hedged on that becoming a realistic outcome, too, most notably by not using the fifth-year option on him for the 2023 season.
Perhaps the second round of this year’s draft was a bit of an insurance policy as well.
If Jones does not live up to the task, and the Giants need to draft a quarterback next spring, could there be a better situation for a rookie to walk into than one with, presumably, two highly touted and functional tackles protecting his flanks and a familiar target in the passing game?
Robinson caught 104 passes for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021 with Levis as his quarterback, and that was in their first season together in Kentucky. Robinson had transferred in from Nebraska and Levis from Penn State. They seemingly forged a very quick and very productive connection. Levis projects as a first-round selection in early mock drafts and has been grouped among top QB prospects Bryce Young (Alabama) and CJ Stroud (Ohio State).
“He has the best arm that I've ever seen,” Robinson said of Levis in a predraft interview with Sports Illustrated. “He can make all the throws. Once he got here [to Kentucky], he was really adamant about being with the receivers and wanting to throw. He had his own quarterback coach that he was working with, so whenever they were out working, I would be the one catching the ball. But Will, he can do everything. He can do everything that you need him to. In our first scrimmage of fall camp, his first pass was like an 80-yard bomb. I knew from right there that this guy was going to be our quarterback.”
Maybe the Giants know that too. Or are at least preparing for the possibility of it.