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Untangling the (Davis) Webb of mystery

Will 2018 be the year we finally find out what Davis Webb has to offer as a NFL quarterback?

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New York Giants v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

As we come another player closer to the end of our annual New York Giants 90-man training camp roster preview, it’s time to explore one of the biggest mysteries on the team: backup quarterback Davis Webb.

The basics

Age: 23
Experience: 2nd season
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 229 pounds

2017 season in review

When it comes to the head-scratching storylines from 2017, the mystery surrounding Webb probably ranks up there at the top. Drafted in the third round out of Cal, Webb was widely believed to be the heir apparent to Eli Manning’s throne.

Or so we thought. It later was revealed that Ben McAdoo, the head coach at the time, never worked Webb out in person or met the young man prior to the team’s drafting him supposedly because the Giants didn’t think Webb would be available by the time they were on the clock in the third round.

If that wasn’t bizarre enough, while the coaching staffs, from McAdoo to interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo kept praising Webb for getting better every week, Webb still sat behind Geno Smith, the quarterback McAdoo once said had a chance of being the team’s signal caller of the future, until the final week of the season when the coaches finally flip-flopped the depth chart over.

Even as the Giants season turned into the chase for the No. 1 overall draft pick, Webb still couldn’t find his way onto the field in the regular-season finale, even though he had been promoted to second-string.

Seriously, folks, you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

2018 outlook

Eli Manning has already been declared the starting quarterback, but what will be interesting to watch, assuming Webb hangs on to the No. 2 spot throughout the summer, is if he finally gets some live game reps in the regular-season in relief of Manning when games get out of hand either way.

Current head coach Pat Shurmur, who comes with a reputation of being a quarterback whisperer — actually it’s because, as former NFL (and one-time Giants backup) quarterback Sage Rosenfels of LockedOn Vikings told Ed Valentine and yours truly on a Locked On Giants podcast earlier this year that Shurmur adapts his system to the strength of his players which is how he gets the most out of them.

But in order to fully appreciate the strengths of a player, there is no substitution for game reps.

The good news is that despite all the quarterbacks needing to learn the new offense, Webb should get more than the 53 game snaps he received last preseason in which he completed 18-of-34 pass attempts for 190 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions, and, per Pro Football Focus, one sack and three dropped passes.

During spring practices, Webb has looked much more confident and at ease. He did a nicer job of throwing the ball, particularly on the move, and looked significantly calmer when going through his reads and progressions.

Webb’s offseason trainer, Tony Racioppi, told me for an article appearing in The Athletic that perhaps among the biggest differences Giants fans can expect to see in Webb this year include an ability to avoid the pass rush, a fine-tuned throwing sequence and smoother drops.

But again, there is no substitute for live game reps. While Webb has looked more at ease in his role this spring, the real test will come when the lights go on and the public is watching.