When a team selects a quarterback with the sixth overall pick as the Giants did this spring, it sends ripples throughout the organization. The epicenter of that upheaval is in the quarterback room, where everyone starts wondering about their status. And, while most of the impact of the decision to select Daniel Jones was dispersed upward toward starter Eli Manning, it radiated in all directions.
Like toward Kyle Lauletta.
He was the quarterback the Giants drafted a year before Jones (albeit in the fourth round). He was the one they were developing behind Manning. He was the one who beat out the quarterback the Giants had drafted the year before he arrived, Davis Webb, to earn a spot on the 2018 roster in last year's training camp. He’s the only quarterback other than Manning to take a regular-season snap for the team in the past season and a quarter.
But when the Giants drafted Jones, Lauletta was leapfrogged. Jones became their heir inapparent.
On Thursday night, the fourth-string quarterback will have what could be one final opportunity to show the team he is worth keeping. With Manning sitting out the preseason finale against the Patriots and Jones expected to play a little more than a quarter, Lauletta and veteran third-stringer Alex Tanney likely will split the rest of the game.
“I’m excited for the opportunity and the opportunity to play a lot,” Lauletta said.
That opportunity, at least in regular-season terms, shrunk considerably when the Giants drafted Jones.
“There’s been a lot of conversation about the guy we picked this year,” Pat Shurmur said. “There are many ways guys could go with that, but he’s come out every day, competed and gotten better. It’s a credit to him.”
Lauletta has made plenty of strides in his second season in the league and his second in the offense. In the first three preseason games, he has connected on 15 of 22 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a rating of 128.2. Last summer as a rookie, he completed 17 of 35 passes for 194 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His passer rating was 51.4.
“I think he’s had a really good camp,” Shurmur said of Lauletta. “Much better than a year ago. I think he’s improving. I like the way he has competed.”
Shurmur also noted that Lauletta’s strides have been seen throughout this training camp, not just in the rookie-to-veteran jump.
“He’s playing better each week,” Shurmur said. “I don’t know how to phrase it, but he’s doing some really good things with the reps that he’s getting…I am pleased with his progress.”
Enough to keep him around? That’s the hard question.
Shurmur said this week that he would love to keep as many quarterbacks as possible on the roster, calling development at the position “primary” in the NFL. There may not be room on the 53-man team for him, though. There are 31 other teams in the quarterback-starved league, of course, and Lauletta does have practice squad eligibility so he could be with the Giants in that capacity. With Manning and Jones ahead of him already, he probably won’t play in any 2019 games anyway, and if the Giants did need him to, he’d already be in the building.
Not only did the team take a player at Lauletta’s position with a high pick, they selected a player who wore the same jersey number as he does — 17 — in college. Lauletta has so far managed to hold onto the number. That, too, could change this weekend.
All of those possibilities will disclose themselves soon enough. For now, Lauletta is focusing on his chance to play on Thursday and trying not to alter his approach.
“As a quarterback you have a routine that you go through during the week to prepare yourself for the game, so it’s been working for me,” he said. “I think all the quarterbacks play into that and we all prepare together. I’ll just do what I’ve been doing the past three weeks, maybe get a little extra film in when I can, and just try to prepare myself as good as I can knowing I might play a little bit more this game.”
And, everyone figures, a whole lot less after it.