INDIANAPOLIS — Is the next Eli Manning here at the NFL Combine?
That may be the most important question the Giants face during this week’s opportunity to meet with players who will be available to them in the upcoming draft. General manager Jerry Reese said in January that the team will start looking for a future replacement for Manning this offseason, and a draft class of quarterbacks who many see as not quite ready to play in the NFL would seem to be a great fit for what the Giants need.
Unlike other teams who are grasping for a franchise quarterback to start in 2017, the Giants are looking for one to start in 2019 or 2020.
That’s harder than it may seem.
“It’s a challenging position to develop,” head coach Ben McAdoo said on Wednesday, “and to find a guy that you can develop is even more challenging.”
In past years, the Giants have had the luxury of brushing quickly past the quarterbacks during their draft prep. This year, though, they’ll be paying much more attention. A few of the ones they’ll likely be looking at for a mid-round pick include Nate Peterman of Pitt and Brad Kaaya of Miami, both of whom have run pro style offenses in college, and Josh Dobbs of Tennessee who is more of a mobile quarterback but very smart (he majored in aerospace engineering).
There also is a possibility that someone such as Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer could fall out of the first round. It’s doubtful he’d drop to the Giants in the second, but it would certainly be easier to move up in that round to get him than it would be in the first.
So what are the Giants looking for?
“This is a good week to really get them on the board a little bit and hear them talk about football in general, fundamentals,” McAdoo said of the quarterbacks. “Get a chance to look at their profile, their throwing motion, them dropping a little bit and winging it. See how they do with receivers they haven’t thrown to before, see if they can build chemistry as the workout goes on. See if they have a little bit of rhythm in their body. Having rhythm in your body is important.”
While the Giants are looking for their future starter, they also need a present backup. Ryan Nassib and Josh Johnson, who shared that role in 2016, are both free agents. Nassib is coming off elbow surgery. That leaves Manning as the only quarterback currently on the projected roster for 2017.
“It’s early in the process, it’s March 1,” McAdoo said. “We’re going to go through and evaluate the free agents like we did and take a good look at the draft class and see what’s best for the organization moving forward. But it’s too early to tell.”