It’s safe to say that things haven’t gone the New York Giants way to start the 2023 season. Rather than building on their playoff win in 2022, the Giants are sitting at 1-4 and could be 1-5 soon.
It’s too soon to write the season off yet. But as losses and injuries are piling up, fans are looking at draft position more than potential playoff seeding.
So this week, ‘SB Nation Reacts’ asked if the Giants should select a quarterback in the first two rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft. Giants fans responded pretty strongly in favor of drafting a passer, with 68 percent saying that the team should select one in the first two rounds.
There are a few reasons why Giants fans could see this as a good time to select a quarterback highly. To start, the Giants have had a dismal start to the season and very well could have a high pick in the upcoming draft. There’s still a lot of football to be played, but a pick in the top half of the draft order wouldn’t be a big surprise. Next, the guaranteed money in starting quarterback Daniel Jones’s contract will run out after the 2024 season, making it more feasible to move on should it be necessary.
Interestingly, fan confidence ticked up after the Giants’ 31-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins, perhaps because of the defense’s performance against Miami’s potent offense. But even so, only 38 percent of Giants fans think the team is heading in the right direction. That could also weigh into the belief that drafting a quarterback is the right move.
And finally, the 2024 quarterback class could be one of the best (if not the best) in recent memory. There’s a lot of football left to be played here as well, not to mention the full draft process, but we could potentially see as many as 10 passers selected over the first two days of the draft.
Let’s take this opportunity to take a quick look at some of the top quarterback prospects so far in the 2023 season.
Caleb Williams (USC)
We don’t need to spend much time here: Williams is the no-doubt top prospect in this draft class — and not just the top quarterback prospect.
He has been drawing comparisons to Patrick Mahomes for years now, and for good reason. He has a fantastic arm, great mobility and creativity, as well as plenty of competitiveness. Williams is the type of player who expands playbooks and enables offensive coaches, as opposed to needing to be enabled. He’s the most anticipated quarterback prospect since Trevor Lawrence or Andrew Luck.
Drake Maye (North Carolina)
The question as to who would be the second quarterback drafted has been up in the air for a bit, but Maye’s play and upside have set him apart.
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds (with room to grow as he continues to mature) Maye is the kind of big, strapping quarterback to whom NFL evaluators will always be drawn. He has a great arm and plenty of athleticism in his frame as well, and put simply, is a prototypical NFL quarterback. The big question with Maye is whether or not he can play with consistency and great decision-making. Those have been his primary issues over the last two years and could hold him back early in his NFL career.
Shedeur Sanders (Colorado)
No top quarterback in this draft class is as good at handling pressure (both on and off the field) as Shedeur Sanders.
Not only has Sanders had to deal with the pressure of increased expectations after transferring from Jackson State to Colorado, but he’s had to deal with the public pressure of being Deion Sanders’ son. Shedeur has also had to deal with pressure on the field as Colorado has faced the pass rush of much better teams like USC and Oregon. He’s dealt with all that pressure well and has been one of the top passers in college football in the face of the pass rush.
Sanders is (relatively) slightly built, but he’s athletic, can threaten all areas of the field, and has good upside as a pocket passer.
Bo Nix (Oregon)
Nix has one of the best stories of redemption in college football. He was a prized recruit for Auburn but never managed to play up to his potential for the Tigers.
Nix is athletic, has a strong and flexible arm, can generate velocity and threaten all areas of the field off-platform, and is a dynamic athlete. He’s finally found the consistency he lacked earlier in his college career and has emerged as a great quarterback for Oregon. Teams will wonder whether the jump in Nix’s play is due to better talent in Oregon as opposed to Auburn, but his upside is undeniable.
J.J. McCarthy (Michigan)
McCarthy can be a volatile quarterback, but there’s a lot to like about him. He has the arm of a starting NFL quarterback, as well as the mobility and athleticism prized in modern offenses. Likewise, he’s been getting “pro” coaching from Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
Teams will want to see McCarthy continue to grow in consistency and cut back on the mistakes that plagued his earlier career. However, when he’s on, he’s the type of player teams almost can’t help themselves but draft in the first round. It’s a crowded field behind Caleb Williams, but ‘Good J.J.’ will have few problems distinguishing himself.
Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)
The NFL is a copycat league, and the fact that Brock Purdy, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jared Goff are quarterbacking three of the four most prolific offenses in the NFL won’t be lost on teams. As it turns out, there’s still plenty of value in a quarterback who can be the “point guard” of the offense. Each of those quarterbacks has merely “enough” arm strength, but is a quick processor, a good decision maker, and has the type of throwing motion that allows them to deliver the ball with precision, on time, and in rhythm.
All of that describes Michael Penix Jr.
He’s had a fantastic start to the 2023 season and has been one of the hottest quarterbacks to date. Penix is surrounded by talent on the Washington offense, but he does a great job of getting the ball to his playmakers safely and putting them in position to make plays.
The flip side is that he has a significant injury history, suffering torn ACLs in 2018 and 2020, as well as shoulder injuries in 2019 and 2021. That’s a major red flag for teams, not only for his longevity but also concerning how much the injuries have impacted his physical ability.
Jayden Daniels (LSU)
Daniels was “that guy” among scouts in 2022 and over the 2023 season. The quarterback scouts would say things like “Hey, have you watched the LSU QB?” after scouting another player on the LSU offense.
During this season, however, Daniels has stepped forward, shed his sleeper status, and is in the conversation as a top-five passer in the upcoming draft.
Daniels has always had a great arm as well as the ability to gash defenses on the ground. This year, however, he’s taken massive strides as a pocket passer and has the look of a starting NFL quarterback. Daniels has one of the best receivers in college football in Malik Nabers, but that’s not the only reason why he’s sitting at 1,969 yards, 10.9 per attempt, (72.9 percent completion), and 19 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. He also has 422 yards (5.2 per carry) and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
Daniels could find himself in the Top 3 conversation if he keeps this up.
Quinn Ewers (Texas)
What quarterback competition?
As pretty much everyone knows, Arch Manning, the scion of the Manning family and nephew of Peyton and Eli, enrolled at Texas. It was pretty widely speculated that the quarterback the nation has been watching and waiting for since junior high would take the starting job sooner rather than later. But Ewers responded with some excellent play and we haven’t heard a peep since.
The tools that made Ewers a 5-star recruit have been on display this year, though the junior is still a work in progress. That said, the improvement he showed from 2022 to 2023 is encouraging going forward. Likewise, the way Ewers responded to intrasquad pressure should be seen as a positive as well.
Cameron Ward (Washington State)
Ward got out to as hot a start as anyone to start the 2023 season and had 1,386 yards, 13 touchdowns, and no interceptions through the first four games of the season. However, he struggled mightily against UCLA’s pass rush and came crashing back to Earth.
At his best, Ward has tantalizing tools that always attract scouts and coaches. He has a strong and flexible arm, good mobility, generally good decision-making, and the ability to throw with impressive precision. However, his play under pressure against UCLA should give some pause to NFL evaluators. Ward has opportunities to show that the UCLA game was a fluke, and teams will be looking to see how he responds in the coming weeks.
Spencer Rattler (South Carolina)
It wasn’t all that long ago that Rattler had the kind of hype we’re associating with Caleb Williams for the upside he flashed in Oklahoma under Lincoln Riley. And the flashes with Rattler have always been bright: He has undeniable arm talent, mobility, and the ability to throw accurately on the move. Unfortunately, those flashes were only that, and he never took the next step to consistency. This year, however, he is still showing his upside but is playing with more consistency as well. It’s been slow going, but Rattler has been rehabbing his draft stock with his play in 2023.
He could climb back into the second day of the draft by the time all is said and done. The NFL is going to be skeptical of Rattler because of past collapses, but we should keep an eye on him.
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