Quick, name all of the quarterbacks who have played for the Giants after being selected by the team with a first-round pick in the past 60 years.
That’s right. In a span of six decades, only Phil Simms has been selected in the first round and taken the field for the Giants, and that was way back in 1979. They did use the fourth overall pick in 2004 to take Philip Rivers about an hour before trading him and the next year’s first-round pick (plus some others) to the Chargers for Eli Manning. And they used a first-round supplemental draft pick on Dave Brown in 1992. But to find the last Giants quarterback whose name was called by the team in the first round of the actual draft other than Simms, you have to go all the way back to Lee Grosscup in 1959.
That could change this week. There is a growing belief that the Giants will use one of their two first-round picks on Thursday night — more likely the second one, 17th overall, which they landed in the trade of Odell Beckham Jr. — to secure a quarterback of the future.
But there is another option, and it’s one that would seem to fit in well with the Giants’ publicly stated philosophies when it comes to this draft. It’s not a perfect plan because it requires a lot of moving parts, including several decisions made by another franchise. But the possibility exists that by the end of the draft weekend, the Giants could have the heir to Eli Manning on their roster . . . without having drafted him.
By trading for Josh Rosen.
“If we have a QB rated in the first round, we love him,” general manager Dave Gettleman said last week of the current crop. Well, they had Rosen among the top quarterbacks in last year’s class. Does love fade?
Of course, Rosen has to be available. Right now, he’s the quarterback for the Cardinals. This is where it gets tricky. If the Cardinals were to use the first overall pick to select Kyler Murray, which many believe they will do, they probably would be interested in trading Rosen. The bulk of his rookie contract already has been paid by the Cardinals, so it would just be a matter of compensation. Anything less than a first-round pick would seem to make Rosen the best value at quarterback this week. And isn’t that what Gettleman said the Giants are looking for? Value?
Rosen isn’t a perfect player. He was available to the Giants last year when they took Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. Gettleman often has said that decision was based on Barkley, not on Rosen or the other quarterbacks available.
A year after the 2018 draft ended, if the Giants can come away with Barkley and one of that class’s top quarterback prospects — two offensive players who could lead the organization for the next decade — it certainly would cast the first 18 months of Gettleman’s decision-making with the Giants in a different light.
Assuming the Cardinals do select Murray, which is not a lock, their shopping of Rosen could take several paths. They could want to unload him quickly and acquire first-half-of-the-draft picks this weekend. They could want to be patient and wait through the summer for a suitor; if a team with playoff hopes suffers a quarterback injury in the preseason, it might be willing to pay more for Rosen. Or they could see the value in Rosen that other teams see – young, talented, inexpensive for the next several years – and decide to keep him as the backup.
Given Murray’s lack of physical stature, there are many who doubt whether he can withstand the physical toll of NFL defenses. The lure of baseball, Murray’s other professional sports option, is always there as well, and that tug could be even stronger if he were to suffer a concussion or similar injury. Why not keep Rosen around?
The Giants probably don’t know for sure what the Cardinals are thinking.
There was a time when they might have. Gettleman reminisced about his first draft as an intern with the Bills in 1986 when the team’s head of scouting, Norm Pollom, handed him a list of the 28 teams in the NFL and the 28 players he expected them to select in the first round. He got 26 of them correct.
“That was when people didn’t have phones and there wasn’t a whole series of smokescreens and lies and people just kibitzed,” Gettleman said. “At the end of the day, you can’t count on teams taking this guy or that guy. You just have to relax. It’s just a process. You relax and see what happens.”
Gettleman declined to say if he has talked with the Cardinals regarding the possibility of a trade for Rosen. He might not be willing to reach out and ask them about it, either.
“When it comes to trading, the team that makes the call is playing from behind,” he said earlier this year when discussing the Beckham deal. “You’re in a much better position of strength when teams call you. You’re in a much better position.”
The good news is that the Giants soon should know whether Rosen could be available; the Cardinals pick first. By 8:15 on Thursday night — and likely before that — the Cardinals’ intentions should be finalized, if not formalized. If they trade the first overall pick or go with a defensive player, Rosen won’t be available. If they take Murray, the Giants should be in play for a quarterback.
“We are going to sit there and see what is cooking at six,” Gettleman said of his pick and his planned focus for Thursday night. “We’ll go from there.”
And maybe, at the end of it, Simms will be the only first-round quarterback the Giants have selected and signed for another decade.