PHOENIX — It is as necessary as a glass of water while strolling across the desert. The New York Giants need a quarterback.
Eli Manning is 38 years old and it seems almost obvious that the upcoming NFL draft should be the answer after they passed on addressing the need last year.
“I think we all understand. Eli is closer to 40 than 20,” coach Pat Shurmur said Tuesday at the NFL meetings coaches’ breakfast. “At some point there will be a new quarterback playing for the Giants. We will just have to see what happens.”
The Giants have two first-round picks in this year’s draft. General manager Dave Gettleman explained recently that there are extensive data available that show it’s suggested you shop for a franchise quarterback in the first round. The Giants have opportunities with the sixth and 17th overall picks.
When: April 25-27
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
How to watch: ABC/ESPN/ESPN App
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Make no mistake, they want to find Manning’s successor. Co-owner John Mara said he would like to come out of this draft with a quarterback. But the Giants also seem concerned about making a mistake on a decision that could set the organization back years. Gettleman has already warned in the past about putting the Giants in “QB hell,” even if they might already be in that scary predicament.
It just seems more likely after hearing the Giants’ brass speak in Arizona that their quarterback might come with pick No. 17 than No. 6. Among the names buzzing is Duke’s Daniel Jones, who had offensive coordinator Mike Shula and president of player personnel Chris Mara at his pro day Tuesday. Shurmur will get his chance to see Jones throw Thursday when he runs him through a private workout.
Missouri’s Drew Lock is another potential option with the 17th pick, if he falls that far. It seems less likely by the day that the Giants take Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins with the sixth-overall selection, even if they were front and center at his pro day last week.
A pass-rusher or defensive lineman at No. 6 remains the strongest possibility.
“Pass rush is something that we all want,” Shurmur said. “We all want guys that can affect the quarterback. Being an offensive coach, I know how difficult it is for the quarterback to function when he is being rushed. We need to get someone who can affect the quarterback.”
The Giants are putting in the requisite time and effort — like they did last year — on all the draft’s top quarterbacks. They will have seen all the top quarterbacks throw live by the end of this week, and will have them in for top-30 visits in the coming weeks. The extensive legwork is being done; it is a matter of if they will pull the trigger.
“How important is it? I think if there is going to be another quarterback playing for the Giants at some point, sooner better than later, but, again, we have things we want to get done with our roster,” Shurmur said. “We believe in Eli and we’ll just see where it takes us.”
The other outside possibility for Manning’s successor is Arizona’s Josh Rosen. The belief is that he could become available for a reasonable price (likely for a pick in the second-round range) if the Cardinals are set to take Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall selection. But though the Giants are willing to consider Rosen, it remains unlikely they move in that direction after passing on him last year.
It’s also hardly out of the realm of possibility that the Giants defer this massive decision for another year, if necessary. And it’s not because they specifically have their eye on a quarterback next year. Shurmur said that doesn’t really drive their decision-making, considering the uncertainty of what will happen over the next 12 months. Murray and Haskins hadn’t started a college game at this time last year.
But there is always the possibility that the Giants fail to fall in love and that no quarterback’s value in this year’s draft aligns ideally with their pick.
“Here’s the thing: Show me what the grades are,” Mara said. “What’s the value there? If the top quarterbacks are graded toward the bottom of the first round or even the second round, I’m not going to insist that we take one at No. 6 or even at No. 17. Show me what the value is. That’s always been our philosophy on that.”
The Giants still believe Manning can play at a high level. Gettleman went as far recently as calling it a “crock” that he’s overpaid or unable to still play at a high level. Manning is the Giants’ starter “at this point” and that won’t change if they’re winning games, according to Shurmur, even if there is a big-shot, first-round quarterback in the building.
That 2019 is again Manning’s show appears to be a lock. The bigger question remains whether his successor will finally be sharing the quarterback room.
It’s hardly a given.