A year ago, the question about Kyle Lauletta was “could he be the guy to replace Eli Manning?” Now, the question is “can Lauletta keep his spot on the New York Giants’ 53-man roster?”
Let’s talk about the second-year quarterback as we continue profiling the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp next month.
How he got here
The Giants drafted Lauletta in the fourth round a year ago after falling in love with the FCS quarterback out of Richmond at the Senior Bowl. That should be a familiar scenario to Giants fans by now as the Giants have drafted the last three quarterbacks to be named the best player at the Senior Bowl (Davis Webb, Lauletta, Daniel Jones).
At the end of the preseason the Giants somewhat surprisingly cut Webb in favor of veteran Alex Tanney, choosing Lauletta as the young quarterback they preferred to work with.
As the Giants’ season spiraled out of control, there were calls from the fan base and from portions of the media for Lauletta to replace Eli Manning. Coach Pat Shurmur, however, stuck with Manning. Shurmur continued to deliver the message to anyone who would listen that, while Lauletta had promise, he also had a steep learning curve after playing at a small college, and wasn’t ready for the big stage.
Lauletta’s mid-season arrest for a traffic incident when he was apparently late to practice, likely delayed any push to get him some playing time. While no one in the organization will say it directly, it also likely damaged his standing in the eyes of Giants’ decision-makers used to Manning never making unwanted headlines.
When Lauletta finally did get an opportunity in a Week 14 blowout of the Washington Redskins, things did not go well. He went 0-for-5, threw an interception and probably should have thrown at least one more pick. Basically, he showed why Shurmur had been hesitant to push him ahead of journeyman Alex Tanney on the depth chart.
Cloudy. That’s probably the best way to phrase it.
The arrival of Jones as the No. 6 overall pick means no one now sees Lauletta as the Giants’ quarterback of the future. That, in fact, may never have been a realistic outcome for Lauletta.
Now, the question is whether or not Lauletta can wrestle the No. 3 job away from Tanney. ESPN, in fact, lists Lauletta as the veteran Giant most likely to get cut.
Offseason knee surgery slowed Lauletta in the spring, but even when he was healthy toward the end of OTAs he functioned as the No. 4 quarterback, getting only a handful of reps.
Lauletta has to prove at least a couple of things. First, that he has improved from a year ago and is more ready for game action if the situation arises. Second, that he can be a reliable teammate and a positive presence in the quarterback meeting room. He may also have to hope that Tanney isn’t as good in training camp and the preseason as he was during spring practices.
Lauletta recently told the New York Post that he does feel more prepared this time around:
“It feels so much different this year,’’ Lauletta told The Post. “I look at the rookies walking in and just see their faces, it’s just like being a freshman in college all over again. I remember even at the University of Richmond, I wasn’t that great of a quarterback my freshman year. I think I’ve make some serious strides.’’
He also told the Post that he can’t focus on the depth chart:
“After the draft they [the organization] just told me, ‘Don’t worry about that … just do your job,’ ’’ Lauletta said. “The minute I start worrying about another guy, it’s just wasted energy for me. Look at last year, I got drafted and Davis Webb did the year previous. We’re all professionals, we’re all trying to play. I’m going to continue to be a pro and do everything I can to impress the coaches and play well on the field. I’ll just wait for my next shot.’’
Right now, whether or not that “next shot” will actually be with the Giants is a good question.