As we all know, Eli Manning is on the back nine of his career. In reality, nobody knows how long he has left; he could have seven years left, he could have two. More realistically, I would say he has three or four years left in the tank. As we all know, Ryan Nassib most certainly is not the quarterback in waiting, so he will probably leave in free agency this offseason. With no real plans for the backup quarterback or future starter, this is the time to strike. Like Aaron Rodgers was able to learn and marinate behind Brett Favre, the Giants quarterback can do the same things: Many will ask why would you draft a quarterback with the 23rd pick in the draft when the Giants have so many other needs? While that is true, that position could leave the Giants in no man’s land. The Giants have their biggest needs at tight end, offensive line and linebacker. Well, at the 23rd pick there may not be any value at those positions. Before I get to the quarterbacks, let’s see if I can figure out other ways to fill these needs.
The Giants definitely need a tackle at some point. Ereck Flowers has proven over the last two seasons that at this point, he can’t get the job done. The problem lying here is that this draft class presents one of the worst offensive tackle classes in recent memory. The only guys worth a first round look are Ryan Ramczyk out of Wisconsin and Cam Robinson from Alabama. Ramczyk won’t make it past the top 15 if he even gets out of the top 10, and Robinson won’t make it to pick 20. Even if Robinson reached the Giants, he was arrested for marijuana possession and as we saw with Laremy Tunsil last year, the Giants will probably pass on him anyway. At this point, the Giants really have no business drafting one in the 1st round, which Reese has no business doing. In free agency, there are some decent left tackles like Riley Reiff who will only be 29, and Andrew Whitworth who will be 36. A veteran, but could fill that hole for a couple years. The best way to fill that hole is in free agency, not the draft.
The tight end position in this draft class is quite deep and quite impressive. With a ton of great pass catching tight ends and decent blockers, you can afford to grab a guy in the 2nd round. With Jake Butt tearing his ACL, that eliminates him from 1st round contention as he will most certainly be on the shelf for at least half of next season. The only other guy I would take in the 1st round with absolute certainty would be Alabama’s O.J. Howard. He’s a great blocker and great receiver. If he falls to the Giants, you can throw this out and forget it because he’s the guy. In all likelihood, he will not be there. I would not take David Njoku here because that would be another reach. In the 2nd round, the Giants have an abundance of guys to pick from like Evan Engram, Jordan Leggett, or Bucky Hodges. They could even go Jake Butt here or in the 3rd depending on how bad evaluators think the injury is. The tight end position can be addressed in the 2nd round.
Moving on to the middle linebacker position…actually forget it, Jerry Reese does not value this position and will most likely fill this hole with a washed up veteran, special teams player or 6th round pick. But on the off chance that he changes his tune this offseason, there are only two inside linebacker in this draft worth a 1st round pick. Reuben Foster from Alabama and Zach Cunningham from Vanderbilt. Foster will not make it out of the top 10 and Cunningham is too much of a risk for Reese to pull the trigger on if he happens to make it to pick 23. It is possible the Giants could get a guy like Raekwon McMillan or Jarrad Davis if they don’t take a tight end in the 2nd. In the 3rd, they can grab guys like Anthony Walker or Kendell Beckwith. Ben Boulware, for all the Clemson fans is a guy they can grab late if Reese keeps the strategy he has with linebackers over the years.
Now that I have solved the biggest needs, it is on to Eli Manning’s replacement. People ask, “Why draft a quarterback in the 1st round if you have a franchise QB already?” Well, because, like I mentioned earlier, the end is very unpredictable and Eli is not getting any younger, that’s for sure. Draft experts are also saying this class lacks that eye-popping QB prospect. While that is true, this makes it an even better time to strike. One caveat to drafting a quarterback in the 1st round who will not start from day one is that 1st round picks have a fifth-year option. If Eli lasts 3-4 more seasons, it allows the quarterback to still play under his rookie contract for no less than one or two seasons. You have at least that long to decide what you have in this quarterback.
At the same time though, the Giants should not take a quarterback in the 1st round solely for the sake of taking a quarterback. The only way I can see the Giants taking a QB in the 1st round is if one of those top three guys fall, or if they have a strong enough belief in a guy like Pat Mahomes or Brad Kaaya. I don’t see a scenario where Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson fall. Trubisky is being hailed as the best passer in the draft, whether that is fair or foul. Watson had two great seasons at Clemson along with a dominant performance in a National Championship win over Alabama. In reality, it comes down to a handful of possibilities.
If DeShone Kizer falls, I feel like it would be a no-brainer if the Giants are in a position to draft a quarterback. He has been good over two seasons. He has the size, athleticism, and the tools to be great. He throws a great deep ball and sees the field well and is able to hit his check-downs when his number one target isn’t available. He does need to work on accuracy and decision making, but again he will sit and learn as the backup to Eli and learn from coach McAdoo who was the QB coach to Aaron Rodgers a few years back.
If Kizer is not there, you can make the argument for Mahomes. He is probably the toughest quarterback in this class. He has a phenomenal arm, good athleticism and is very accurate. He has played on some horrible teams and has been forced to play from behind a lot and has still been quite impressive. With a couple of years to learn, he will need to work on decision making, working with a pro-style offense, and taking snaps under center.
Finally, a case can be made for Brad Kaaya. When given time, he can be a phenomenal and dynamic quarterback. When he is put under pressure, he can be awful. He has a very good arm, can be deadly accurate, and can work through his progressions when he is given time. He doesn’t present great pocket presence, doesn’t have great field vision, and takes a lot of sacks. If the Giants feel this is somebody they can work with, then I say pull the trigger, otherwise, they are better off waiting until later in the draft or even next season.
At the end of the day, do I think the Giants will take a QB in the 1st round? Probably not. I believe the circumstances all have to be somewhat perfect for the Giants to make that move. Obviously, we are early in the process. Sleepers can move up draft boards and top-end prospects can fall. What is certain is that I believe the Giants need to take a QB at some point in the 2017 NFL Draft. Eli is coming to the end of his great career and the Giants need to make sure they have a guy who can fill his shoes before the wheels fall off the car and they find themselves picking 1st in the draft because they were unprepared for this situation. Unexpected injuries happen too. Romo went down and Prescott had to step in. You should always have a plan for the future when it comes to the quarterback position. I do believe Kizer and Mahomes fit that first mold if they are there for the Giants to take. They have a ton of upside and all the intangibles to succeed. Kaaya is a possibility, but I am not sure I have confidence in a guy like that in the 1st round. The draft is crazy and unpredictable, so you never know who’s gonna fall and who’s gonna rise. Maybe Howard or Foster will be sitting there, maybe the Giants trade up for one of them, maybe they trade back, maybe they draft a guy like Dalvin Cook if he’s available or hey, maybe Watson or Trubisky fall to their spot. Anything can happen in the NFL Draft.