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Free agency, Darnold vs. Rosen, NFL Draft much more in a stuffed BBV mailbag

Lots to get to, so let’s do that

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at East Carolina
Tremaine Edmunds makes a tackle.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

With NFL free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft creeping closer, this week’s Big Blue View mailbag is full of good questions. Let’s quit wasting time and get right to them.

Ed says: First and foremost, however much cap space the Giants end up with I would allocate a significant chunk to the offensive line. The Giants are expected to make a big run at Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell, and I’ll bite on that. He’s better than anyone the Giants have. Spotrac estimates his market value at $11.7 million annually, but I think it might take north of that to land him. I’ll pay it. That’s going to be my big splash in free agency. Anything else would just be adding pieces.

I doubt the Giants can also afford mega-deals for Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, but I’m giving D.J. Fluker maybe two years and $6 million.

I would bring back linebacker Devon Kennard, cornerback Ross Cockrell and running back Orleans Darkwa, provided I could get them on short-term deals that don’t break the bank.

I would love to add to the linebacking corps, but I’m not sure there is going to be anyone worth really spending big money on. I would also love to add depth at defensive end. Perhaps corner as well, depending on what happens with DRC and Eli Apple.

Nicolas Rival asks: Do you think if Eli has a great season and leads us to the postseason, but we drafted a QB at number 2, he would stay an extra year leaving our rookie with a contract slowly but surely finishing its rookie advantages or we would say goodbye on a high note?

Ed says: The obvious comparison here is what just happened with Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs, where they traded him after a playoff season to make way for first-round pick Patrick Mahomes.

Could that happen with the Giants? Sure, but the situations won’t be identical. Eli will be 38 in the 2019 season and probably won’t have much trade value, unless he goes out and has a monster year and leads the Giants to a Super Bowl. If he does that, why would you want to get rid of him, anyway?

I don’t mean to give you a non-answer for an answer, but I really think we need to let it play out and see where the Giants are after the 2018 season.

Ed says: I will answer these two Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold questions together. First, a question of my own. Mr. Bettcher, why aren’t you demanding your bosses draft Tremaine Edmunds or Bradley Chubb?

Anyway, I have said this multiple times and I will keep saying it. If it’s a choice purely between Rosen and Darnold I take Darnold every time. Durability, mobility and personality/leadership all favor the USC quarterback. Rosen throws a pretty ball, but makes plenty of mistakes, and Darnold can make every throw Rosen can make.

BBV writers debated this topic last month. Here is what I wrote:

If I’m a GM taking a quarterback with the second overall pick I’m not just looking for a kid who can play. I’m looking for the guy in the group most likely to win Super Bowls. For me, that’s Darnold.

I’m aware of the turnovers — 13 interceptions and 11 fumbles in 14 games. That’s not good. I also know that most draft analysts I have communicated with in recent months believe that Darnold has the highest ceiling of any of these top quarterbacks. Finally, I know that analysts believe it will take Darnold time. Well, the Giants can keep Eli Manning at quarterback in 2018 and give Darnold that time. Something I have forgotten to mention, in fact, is that when I watch Darnold I see a lot of Manning — but Manning with wheels and the ability to make plays with his feet.

Taking a quarterback at No. 2 is a massive risk. Get it right and you have a franchise quarterback for a decade. Get it wrong, you might set your franchise back just as long. If I’m taking that risk I’m swinging for the fences with the guy who could, in the end, be the best of the bunch.

Ed says: Well, not to be Captain Obvious but apparently not EVERYONE feels like the Giants need to draft a quarterback at No. 2. You don’t. The overwhelming majority of mock drafters do, but not all.

Anyway, to have sustained success in the NFL you have to have a franchise quarterback. You can win occasionally with a middle of the road quarterback or a guy who gets a hot hand, but to be good year-in and year-out you have to have a top tier guy. The hour glass is running out on Eli Manning, and the Giants have to find a successor. If they think they can in this draft, they need to go for it. They — hopefully — won’t pick this high again for a long time.

Besides, nobody knew how good Andrew Luck would be. You shoot your shot when you have the chance. Maybe Sam Darnold is Eli with wheels. Maybe he’s Mark Sanchez. Maybe Josh Rosen is Joe Montana. Maybe he’s Sam Bradford. Maybe Josh Allen is Dan Marino. Maybe he’s Brock Osweiler. Maybe Baker Mayfield is Brett Favre. Maybe he’s RG III. There are no guarantees, but if you have a conviction that a guy will be your next franchise quarterback you act on it.

Ed says: Yes, I know you meant Tremaine Edmunds — and corrected yourself in a subsequent tweet. Let’s get that out of the way so readers don’t get themselves in a tizzy correcting your mistake.

Anyway, Edmunds is widely regarded as the best linebacker in the draft. He would be a really nice get for the Giants. If they don’t want a quarterback at No. 2 I’m not sure they would pull the trigger on Edmunds with the second overall pick, but they might. If they were to trade down a few spots he might get serious consideration if he’s still on the board.

Ed says: I honestly have no preference position-wise. I just want to see the Giants address the line with the best players they can acquire. The tackle spot is going to be more difficult to fill, especially the left side, which makes it possible Ereck Flowers will still be in that spot next season. As for one- or two-year rebuild look at what the Minnesota Vikings did last year. It’s a year-to-year league, so you worry about fielding the best group you can for 2018.

Ed says: Sure, there is a chance the Giants would move down and select Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. You could also say there is a chance GM Dave Gettleman will go hog wild and take Nelson second overall. There is a chance of anything. As much as Gettleman loves linemen, you have to believe Nelson is on his wish list.

The Giants don’t “need” Nelson. He would be really nice to have. They “need” to upgrade the offensive line, and there are lots of potential ways to do that. Drafting Nelson is one. I would be happy to see the Giants find a way to get him, but if they don’t they have other options in both free agency and the draft.

Ed says: The Davis Webb questions just won’t die. For starters, there may have been some scouts who thought Webb had a chance to be a first-round pick, but that was a minority. I don’t know what Webb is capable of doing at the NFL level. What I do know is that history tells us new regimes, like the Giants have with GM Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur, like to identify and bring in their own guy. If the Giants think that guy in this draft they are taking him, regardless of what Webb might or might not be. He was someone else’s evaluation and choice, not theirs.

As for a month of evaluation, what month of evaluation? Clubs with new head coaches can begin their offseason programs on April 2, but the first few weeks of that work is all conditioning. There might be an extra two- or three-day mini-camp, but there isn’t going to be a month of getting the guy on the field to evaluate him.

Ed says: I really don’t think history helps us at answer this question at all. Shurmur was head coach of the Cleveland Browns for two years, and the only quarterback they drafted was Branden Weeden in 2012. As a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator Shurmur has worked successfully with lots of different types of QBs — Donovan McNabb, Sam Bradford, Nick Foles, Case Keenum.

Maybe the good thing about all of that is that what we know is that Shurmur has shown the ability to adapt to his personnel, rather than force players to adapt to his system. That is the essence of good coaching.