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ESPN Future Power Rankings: Giants land at 27

The perception of the Giants’ future hinges on the perception of Eli Manning

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants 2018 training camp — and with it real football news — is rapidly approaching. Players will begin to returning to the Giants’ facilities in just a few days, and camp will begin in earnest a week from now. Pre-season will follow close on the heels of the opening of training camps, and we’ll get to see real football for the first time since February.

But, alas, it isn’t here yet.

We are still in the final days of “List Season,” when outlets fill the time with every list and power ranking they can think of.

ESPN has released its “Future Power Rankings” (Insider content), ranking teams by not just their 2018 talent, but also looking ahead to 2019 and 2020. Using this criteria, the Giants landed at a woeful 27th, last in the NFC East, in the rankings:

A trio of experts, including Louis Riddick, who interviewed for the Giants’ head coaching job, had this to say about the team:

Why they’re here: While GM Dave Gettleman worked hard to make rapid improvements to his inherited roster -- Saquon Barkley, Nate Solder and Alec Ogletree are among those whose immediate returns will be significant -- he eschewed the long-term quarterback solution, waiting until the fourth round to draft a young quarterback. While it’s possible that the heir apparent to Eli Manning will be either Davis Webb or Kyle Lauletta, that’s a major question facing a franchise that plays in a difficult division. -- Yates

Biggest worry: I like what Gettleman has done this offseason to get this team pointed back in the right direction. He has added some very nice pieces through free agency and the draft. What concerns me most is Manning. I don’t see it ending well for him. I am of the belief that he is much closer to the end than others think, and I am hopeful that the Giants got a steal in fourth-round pick Lauletta. They will make a big turnaround in 2018 in terms of wins and losses, but I see a lot of uncertainty on the horizon at QB. -- Riddick

What could change for the better: The immediate future hinges on whether Manning can perform at a high level when given a viable supporting cast. He played poorly last season with a weak offensive line, no running game and injured receiving targets. If the Giants’ upgraded supporting cast leads to a Manning revival, the Giants’ outlook improves substantially. -- Sando

Raptor’s Thoughts: It isn’t a coincidence that each of the experts brings up Eli Manning and the quarterback position. While the Giants’ depth is certainly a concern, their roster has a bevy of young, talented players. The offensive skill positions are loaded with young, explosive players in Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley.

On the defensive side of the ball, Damon Harrison is the best nose tackle in the NFL and still on the right side of 30, Dalvin Tomlinson was the best defensive tackle from his draft class, Olivier Vernon and Alec Ogletree are talented players aged 27 and 26, respectively. Landon Collins is probably the best all-around safety in the NFL, easily pacing the position in defensive stops and having the second-most passes defensed among safeties since entering the NFL. Eli Apple’s bad year in 2017 had more to do with issues with his personal life and the previous coaching staff — on the field he has flashed the upside to warrant the Top-10 pick spent on him. And the Giants just acquired Sam Beal in the supplementary draft, a move which gives them a young corner with the potential to grow into a starter opposite Apple. The Giants have the roster to compete consistently over the coming seasons, so that can’t be the reason why they are in the bottom of ESPN’s future rankings.

No, the concerns about the Giants’ future are tied to Manning and the Giants’ future at quarterback.

Mark Schofield gave us reason to be optimistic for Manning on Tuesday morning — though he tempered the optimism. Mark concluded that while Eli is certainly capable of cringe-worthy throws and decisions, he is not in any serious decline. Personally, I expect to see a rebound in play simply as a byproduct of being in a creative and quarterback-friendly offense for the first time in his career, and being surrounded by the aforementioned skill-position players who will be put in position to succeed.

Looking ahead, the battle between Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta could be a fascinating one. Both young signal callers are smart as well as surprisingly good athletes for quarterbacks not recognized as such.

Webb has the arm to hang with quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen in terms of pure arm strength, and is regarded as an obsessive worker. Lauletta is a precise and accurate quarterback with great timing and anticipation. He was also among the best quarterbacks in his draft class on throws in the range most typically seen in the NFL.

However, Webb was plagued by inconsistent mechanics — and a resulting inaccuracy — at the college level, while Lauletta struggles to generate velocity on his passes.

In many ways they are two halves of a “perfect” quarterback, which adds intrigue to their on-going competition. However with just third- and fourth-round picks invested in Webb and Lauletta (respectively), the Giants needn’t be tied to them if they fail to develop. That there are obvious flaws in their games and they weren’t highly regarded coming out gives many pause about the Giants’ future.

We will just have to wait and see how Manning plays over the remainder of his career and whether Dave Gettleman, or Jerry Reese for that matter, got it right and landed the Giants’ future franchise quarterback with a mid-round draft pick.