A critical week in the buildup to the 2019 NFL Draft, and perhaps to the future of the New York Giants franchise, is about to begin. The NFL Combine is this week, and with GM Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur set to speak to media on Wednesday we should begin to get some answers to the burning questions surround the Giants.
Let’s look at what some of those questions are.
Will they fall in love with Dwayne Haskins?
Mock drafters are overwhelmingly convinced the Giants should draft Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins to be the heir to Eli Manning. At this point, quite frankly, there is no way for the Giants to be convinced of that themselves.
I have said this before, but the Giants have watched the film. They know what they think of his arm strength and his accuracy. They know whether or not they are concerned about his lack of experience and what some see as a lack of mobility. They know whether or not they think he can play.
What they don’t know is what they think of Haskins as a person. They haven’t met him yet. Will he mesh with Shurmur and Gettleman? Do they think he has what it takes to lead an NFL team? Especially an NFL team in a vulturous media market like New York?
Forget whatever happens on the field this week. Is Haskins doesn’t light it up during drills that would be a surprise. In shorts and t-shirts, quarterbacks should look great. What happens in the meeting room when Haskins and the Giants get together is what will really be important.
GM Dave Gettleman said last year that the 15-minute Combine interview is like “speed dating.”
So, will it be love at first sight for the Giants and Haskins?
Will another QB steal their hearts?
Just because the majority of analysts currently think Haskins should be the pick doesn’t mean that is what will happen. It really has no bearing on the decision whatsoever. The mocks just give us something to talk about.
Think about the Giants drafts over the years. Remember 2015 when everyone was on the Brandon Scherff train? Or 2017 when it was Ryan Ramczyk? Or last year when so many thought Sam Darnold should be the choice?
Maybe the Giants won’t love Haskins. Maybe they will and someone else will beat them to him. Maybe the Giants will fall in love with another quarterback. Daniel Jones of Duke? Maybe Jarrett Stidham of Auburn on Day 2? Maybe Bretty Rypien or Tyree Jackson on Day 3?
Will they make progress with Landon Collins?
This, obviously, isn’t a draft question. It is, however, a timely one. The Giants and their star free safety either haven’t begun negotiations on a new contract or haven’t gotten very far if they have.
The clock, however, is ticking and the Giants have until March 5 to decide whether or not to use a franchise or transition tag on Collins to keep him off the free agent market.
Giants’ brass will, obviously, be in Indianapolis for the Combine. So, too will David Mulugheta. Who is Mulugheta? He is Collins’ agent. He also happens to represent Haskins, defensive lineman Christian Wilkins and safety Deionte Thompson, all of whom should be first-round picks.
You have to think the Giants and Mulugheta will huddle during the Combine to see if they can at least come up with the framework of a deal for Collins.
Can they plant some seeds?
I have no idea what kind of gardener Gettleman is, but one of his jobs during the Combine will be to plant some seeds that could blossom into draft weekend trades.
Gettleman made a number of deals involving draft picks while GM of the Carolina Panthers, usually involving using late-round picks to move up and target a player earlier in the draft. It just so happens that the Giants have 10 picks in this draft, eight from Rounds 4-7. They don’t have a third-round pick.
Can Gettleman perhaps plant the idea that he would move some of those late assets for a chance to get into Round 3? Or Round 2? Or, move around in Round 1?
Of course, it takes two to play. Part of Gettleman’s job during the Combine will be to see which teams might be willing to play when the time comes.
And now, a brief interlude for our WWE fans. Simply because I can.
Now, back to business.
Can Gettleman plant the seed that he would be a willing partner for teams that want to play the “Let’s Move Around the Draft Board” game?
I have a hard time envisioning the Giants ending up making all 10 of the picks they currently possess.
Will Eli Manning be the 2019 starting quarterback?
We already pretty much know that the answer to this question is going to be “yes.” Like it or not, when Gettleman and Shurmur speak to the media Wednesday morning at the Combine it would be a surprise if they don’t say they will begin the 2019 season with Manning as the quarterback.
One thing I will be interested in is getting clues as to the Giants’ level of commitment to Manning. Do they feel pressure to get an heir apparent into the fold this spring? Gettleman and Shurmur won’t directly answer that question. They might, however, indirectly offer some hints.
Can they find defensive playmakers?
The Giants finished second-last in the NFL in sacks. They were 23rd in points allowed and 15th in the league in takeaways. They need difference-makers on defense.
“It’s not easy to win games when you don’t have playmakers,” Gettleman said in January. “We need to improve the defense, guys. Just like I looked you right in the eye last year and told you we’ve got to fix this O-line, we’ve got to get better on the defensive side.”
Knowing Gettleman, would it shock anyone if the player the Giants ultimately fall in love with and select at No. 6 comes from the defensive side of the ball? Even if that ends up not being the case, you can bet one of the Giants’ goals this week is finding potential impact players on defense.