No guts, no glory.
That needs to be the Giants approach in a few weeks when it comes to preparing for the inevitable transition from the Eli Manning era.
General manager Dave Gettleman understands that. So too, does ownership and head coach Pat Shurmur. Yet while all the key decision makers involved seem to realize that at some point they’re going to need to step outside of the comfort zone that Manning has afforded them since 2004, there appears to have been a bit of a reluctance to do so.
How so? Gettleman has said in the past that you can’t force a decision at quarterback, that if you make a mistake, you’re going to regret it.
To a degree, he’s correct. The last thing a franchise that is trying to become relevant needs is to continue whiffing on draft picks, especially at high-profile positions such as quarterback.
But whereas years ago when a team made a mistake on a quarterback and had to compound it for multiple years due to the salary cap implications, the current CBA has given teams a quicker out should a player not develop as expected.
Let’s go back in time for a moment to the year 2010. In that draft class, the then St. Louis Rams selected quarterback Sam Bradford No. 1 overall and gave him a six-year, $78.045 million contract with $50 million guaranteed (the largest such deal given to an NFL rookie at the time) before he even played a down in an NFL regular-season game.
Because of the structure of the contract, the Rams had little choice but to sink or swim with Bradford at the helm.
As we all know by now, they ended up doing the latter. Bradford, who finished with an 18-30-1 record for them, completed just 58.6 percent of his pass attempts for 11,065 yards, 59 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions as a Ram before becoming a journeyman.
The current CBA eliminated this risk by imposing contract limitations on the rookie class. These limitations include paying players based on what overall draft slot they were chosen.
The new CBA takes a little bit of the risk out of investing in a franchise type player because the cost is so much lower. So if that if the player doesn’t pan out as expected, teams can more easily move on and start over. (Of course, if they’re starting over annually, then the team better look long and hard at their drafting process.)
So what does this have to do with the Giants and taking a quarterback this year?
Very rarely does a team hit on all of its draft picks. In fact, the more picks a team has, the more likely there will be a whiff or two in the bunch.
With that said, if the Giants grab a quarterback outside of the first round who turns out to be the next franchise quarterback, they will have ended up with a steal in the draft.
If that pick doesn’t pan out as the future of the franchise, they can then start again in 2020 while still operating under the current CBA’s terms governing a rookie cap.
Meanwhile, they can either look to keep the quarterback chosen in 2019 as a backup, which would then give the team two home-grown signal callers.
Why the Giants probably won’t trade for Josh Rosen
There is a growing sentiment that if the Cardinals make Josh Rosen available via trade, the Giants should throw their hats in the ring.
And why not? Rosen is a solid young prospect on his rookie deal who, if the Cardinals are willing to be reasonable in their pricing demands, such as accepting a third-round pick in this year’s draft and a conditional third in next year’s, wouldn’t cost very much.
But there is a caveat that the “get Josh Rosen” crowd is missing out on that could very well come into play.
Last year in the days leading up to the draft, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported that the opinion in the NFL scouting community last year was that if Josh Allen was off the board by the Giants pick at No. 2, the feeling was that Sam Darnold was their backup choice at quarterback.
This little nugget would suggest that at the very least, Rosen would have been their third choice if not lower.
We all know how the story unfolded. The Giants drafted Saquon Barkley after Cleveland drafted Baker Mayfield first overall and the Giants, who did draft Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round, kicked the can into 2019.
In revisiting last year’s quarterback situation, since neither Allen or Darnold is expected to be available via trade—and again, we still don’t know if Arizona is going to make Rosen available--would the Giants “settle” for Rosen if he’s available and if they feel they need to start grooming Manning’s successor now?
Logic would dictate Gettleman would not do an about-face by going with a quarterback that the team is believed to have had not graded ahead of Allen and Darnold.
In addition, if the Giants brass feels like Manning still has another couple of years left in him, there might be more of a comfort level kicking the can down the road again to where Manning will end up finishing out the 2020 season on a one-year contract extension while a 2020 draft picks comes in and learns from him.
It’s not the ideal way to do things, especially not knowing what the future brings in terms of what 2020 quarterback prospects will raise their respective stocks or knowing where the Giants will be drafting in 2020 (though if Manning’s critics prove to be correct, the team won’t do much better than they have the last two seasons).
But at some point, the Giants need to start figuring this out as to expect Manning to be there indefinitely is pushing their luck.
Every year just before the draft, I, like a lot of you, look for clues into how the team might be thinking.
Sometimes the answers are right there before your eyes, like last year when the Giants did everything but take out a billboard in Times Square declaring their intentions to draft running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall.
Then there are other times where you have to do a little more digging and hope that you at least land in the ballpark.
This year, it’s the latter.
Since the season ended, I have opined that the Giants would go defense with their No. 6 pick, and I’m not about to change my mind. But what I haven’t really said just yet is what position or player I think might be pick No. 6.
With that all said, it’s time for me to come off the fence and take a stand.
In studying James Bettcher’s defense, one of the most significant problems the unit had was stuffing the run, which is the precursor to setting up the pass rush.
Last year, New York’s run defense finished 27th in the league. With opponents having second- and third-and manageable situations, the Giants’ lack of a pass rush combined with the problems on the back end made it easy for opposing quarterbacks to do their thing.
And speaking of the pass rush, does anyone doubt that Gettleman wouldn’t mind adding a couple of defensive hog mollies who can push the pocket and create pressure?
Per Pro Football Focus, rookie B.J. Hill led the team’s defensive linemen with 27 total pressures, followed by Kerry Wynn’s 21. In fact, those were the only two of the Giants defensive linemen to have more than 20 pressures last season.
With that in mind, I believe the Giants are going to draft a defensive lineman at No. 6 who can not only stop the run but also help to push that pocket, which I believe will help the edge rushers and the back end of the defense tighten things up.
The next question is who would fit the bill. In a perfect world, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams would be that guy, though Houston’s Ed Oliver wouldn’t be such a bad “consolation” pick.
I’d also like to see the Giants come away with a right tackle in this draft, preferably in the first round and preferably at No. 17, if possible. My guess is there will be a run on defensive players early on so I’m hoping that Florida’s Jawaan Taylor slides down the board to the Giants at No. 17.
I think regardless of what happens with Mike Remmers, who was in for a free-agency visit last month, the Giants should look to add youth at the offensive tackle which, in my mind, has been lacking quality depth for many years.