INDIANAPOLIS — The Giants have established that they want to move forward with Eli Manning at quarterback. That was last month’s news.
These next two months will be about determining who eventually succeeds him at the most important position on the field. So while the Giants peruse the quarterbacks aisle here at the NFL Combine and mull whether any of the available prospects are worthy of the No. 2 overall selection, they won’t only be comparing them to each other. They’ll be comparing them to what they have back home in New Jersey.
Before Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield can be the next Eli Manning, they first have to be a better option for the Giants than Davis Webb.
“That’s a pretty good idea,” general manager Dave Gettleman said on Wednesday when asked if Webb’s presence on the roster will figure into the Giants’ decision in April.
The problem, of course, is that no one really knows what they have in Webb. He was the third-stringer for all but the final week of the season in 2017 and never took a regular-season snap. Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur said they have gone over the practice tapes from last year and watched Webb play there, but it’s a weak substitute for game action.
“There’s only so much to watch,” Gettleman said.
Still, the Giants sound confident in Webb, who has been a mainstay at the team’s complex this offseason, working out with Manning just about every day, trailing him everywhere from the weight room to the cafeteria.
“I like what I’ve seen in Davis Webb,” Shurmur said. “I went back and watched his tape again from college just to get reacquainted with him. I like what I saw on tape when he played. I had a chance to watch his practice tape, which has been terrific. We just don’t have a large sample size of Davis Webb playing NFL football. But I’m excited what he brings to the table.”
Excited enough to eschew a possible franchise quarterback in this year’s draft?
Maybe. Especially with the risks involved in selecting that position at No. 2 overall.
“If he’s the right guy, if you think that guy can be a franchise quarterback like Eli has been, and still is, as far as I’m concerned, then you do it,” Gettleman said. “But let me tell you something, if you make a mistake on a quarterback, especially this high and in the first round, it sets you back five years. It kills you. You’ve gotta be right. You have to be right.”
And that’s why the Giants are here at the Combine. They’ve watched all the tape on the players; now they want to be in a room with them individually — a 15-minute interview that Gettleman compared to speed-dating — and see if any of them has, for lack of a better word, it.
“We know what we’re looking for, we know when we see it,” Shurmur said. “You just want to get a feel for, hey, is this the guy we want to lead our team? Some of it is subjective, some of it really just comes by getting to know the player. We have a good idea of what a good quarterback is and so we’re trying to see those attributes in all these candidates.”
Shurmur listed those attributes.
“Really, how a player competes on the film, that’s what’s most important,” he said. “But the other piece when you are picking a quarterback is all the other things you guys have written about all the other quarterbacks who have played in this league. You want a guy who is going to be a good decision-maker in all facets of his life. You want a guy who understands timing and is an accurate passer. You want to walk away from the guy and say: ‘This guy’s got it.’ You like it to be a slam-dunk decision. Unfortunately when you go through this process there are a lot of really good players so you have to pick your flavor.”
This year there are plenty from which to choose.
“It’s an interesting class,” Gettleman said. “All shapes and sizes. All flavors. This is like Howard Johnson’s back in the day. It’s a real interesting group. I’m excited about meeting some of these guys here, it’s going to be fun. Obviously we’ll be busy once the Combine is over visiting. You have your 30 private visits, so that will be part of the process. It’s a really interesting, eclectic group.”
As for the scouting of Webb, that began at last year’s draft when both Shurmur and Gettleman scouted him for their previous employers and liked him.
“I did a lot of work on him actually,” said Shurmur, then offensive coordinator for the Vikings. “We liked him a great deal. We thought he was a winner. We liked his size, we liked his arm strength, we liked his decision-making. He could move around in the pocket, so I can see why the Giants drafted him a year ago because we liked him as well.”
It also continues by watching Webb in the offseason and asking others about him (because talking football with players is illegal during the offseason).
“I’ve canvassed the building asking questions about a lot of different topics,” Shurmur said. “Certainly one involves Davis because there is not a lot of tape on him in an NFL game. Everybody thinks he has a very bright future, and that’s what kind of excites me about him being here.”
But whether he will follow Manning in the legacy of Giants quarterbacks the way he follows Manning in the tape room and online at the lunch counter remains to be determined.