Mock drafts tend to be more for fun, or a thought experiment going through different scenarios to look at which players could be available or fits for what teams. This time of the year, half-way through the regular season, they err even more to the side of fun, though they can be used to look at the perceived weaknesses of each team.
With the New York Giants marching toward a high pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the need to use the opportunity to select a quarterback has been a consistent drumbeat. That is exactly what our friends over at Mocking The Draft did in their most recent mock draft.
3. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
Darnold is a confounding prospect. He can complete some unreal passes all over the field with precision and good arm strength. And he seems to always perform well in clutch situations. But he’s been prone to turnovers during his career. He may not enter the draft, but if he does he’ll go high. The Giants may be poised for a rebuild with question marks about their head coach and Eli Manning’s age.
I am not opposed to taking a quarterback if the Giants find themselves in a position to do so with a player they believe can be their next franchise quarterback.
Is that Sam Darnold? Well, part of the issue with mock drafts this early is that we don’t even know if he will be in the draft. Personally, I would tell him to stay in school. He is a red-shirt sophomore with just a season and a half under his belt, and this one has been a big step backward from 2016. Personally, I always advocate that a quarterback take every second of college eligibility that he can. The more experience and mental, and physical, maturity a quarterback can have before entering the league, the better.
There is the argument that getting him in the system earlier is better, but if he is a back-up quarterback, he isn’t playing. He isn’t seeing defenses or having to play in real-game situations. To me, it is akin to a pitcher developing through the minor leagues. Sure, he isn’t getting major league coaching or seeing major league hitters, but he is regularly playing and continually working on his skills. For a quarterback, he would be seeing different defenses and having to lead his team, even if his college offense is only tangentially related to an NFL offense.
As Dan Kadar notes, Darnold has all the physical tools to be a franchise quarterback, but he also shows issues with decision making and mental processing. Those are things that need time to solve, and not playing live games would only slow the process.
If the Giants don’t see enough from Davis Webb to trust him with the keys after Manning’s time is done, my pick would probably by Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (who goes seventh overall to the San Diego Chargers). He might be undersized, but he has the arm strength and mobility to make up for it, and the attitude to be the “Alpha Dog” leader that the Giants lack on offense.
Also in this draft — in which Saquon Barkley goes second overall to the San Francisco 49ers — I would have to strongly consider Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, or NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb.
The rationale for passing on a quarterback is that with so many (potentially) going at the top of the draft, the Giants could use their high picks to get quality players in the first three rounds to shore up their roster. Then, if they still aren’t confident in Webb, their roster could better withstand trading up for a signal caller.
Of course, either way the whole argument would depend on who is the Giants’ head coach and his vision for the team.