Davis Webb has a chance to make his closing argument starting Tuesday. It’s also his opening argument.
That’s when the Giants will open their three-day voluntary minicamp and Webb, a 2017 third-round pick who never saw the field as a rookie, will make his in-person debut for the team’s new group of decision-makers. The minicamp will end on Thursday, just a few hours before the Giants hand in their high-profile selection with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
Webb’s performance won’t drastically change the Giants’ approach to that pick. If they are in love with one of the quarterbacks atop the board, they’ll take him. But if there is any indecision in the Giants’ front office and coaching staff, any hesitation, the next three days will give Webb a chance to either sway them away from picking a quarterback or nudge them toward it.
When Webb was drafted last year, he was immediately coronated as the Giants’ quarterback of the future. This week will determine whether he retains that title.
“Seeing Davis . . . is going to be fun for us because he’s a great kid, he works his fanny off, he has been following Eli [Manning] around like a little puppy dog since he walked in the door, and it will be a neat opportunity to see him play,” general manager Dave Gettleman said last week.
About a month ago, coach Pat Shurmur framed this minicamp as a de facto Pro Day for Webb, a quarterback shrouded in mystery because of no game tape since the preseason finale last August. The Giants are treating Webb as if he were a member of the 2018 draft class, analyzing him right alongside Sam Darnold and Josh Allen and Josh Rosen.
By Thursday, one of them will have a clear path to being the heir to Manning. It’s a position held by various players over the last few years, but it’s never been as important as it is now with Manning, 37, having a handful of seasons left at best.
“There is no ability to predict that,” Gettleman said of how much longer Manning can or will play. “Eli takes great care of his body, he’s very fit. We watched the film and he still has plenty of arm. Who knows?”
Which is why it’s not only Webb but Manning who has an opportunity to dissuade the Giants from taking a quarterback.
Tuesday will be 14 years to the day since the Giants acquired Manning in a draft-day trade with the Chargers, setting in motion the next decade and a half, which included two Super Bowl titles and just about every passing record in the team’s history. But it also included a number of disappointing seasons and only one playoff appearance in the past seven years.
Manning will celebrate that anniversary by showing what he can do in front of his new coaches and general manager, taking the first on-field steps toward proving that the team need not rush to acquire his eventual replacement.
“Everybody factors in,” Gettleman said when asked if Manning’s age, health and performance will impact the Giants’ decision on Thursday night. “Your team factors into the equation, everybody does.”
Will Darnold, Allen and Rosen be the Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda picks of the 2018 draft when the Giants look back on it? Will Big Blue be too busy enjoying success in the final years of Manning’s tenure and the early stages of the Davis Webb Era to even notice? Or will one of this year’s picks be the new face of the franchise in rather short order?
Only the coming years will tell if the Giants wind up making the right decision on Thursday night.