General manager Joe Schoen and a couple of other heavy hitters in the New York Giants front office, assistant general manager Brandon Brown and director of player personnel Tim McDonnell were on hand Saturday to watch the USC-Washington game featuring two of the country’s premier college quarterbacks — Caleb Williams of USC and Michael Penix Jr. of Washington.
Certainly there were other prospects the Giants’ braintrust was also looking at, but it isn’t hard to interpret the Giants’ heavy presence at the game as an indication quarterback could be a consideration early in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Giants GM Joe Schoen in attendance for Caleb Williams vs. Michael Penix Jr. pic.twitter.com/MbJVHvxCMb— Yahoo Sports NFL (@YahooSportsNFL) November 4, 2023
The Giants’ braintrust saw Washington outscore USC, 52-42. Penix, a leading Heisman Trophy contender, completed 22 of 30 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Williams, long thought of as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, was 27 of 35 for 312 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and one fumble.
Schoen gave Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones a four-year, $160 million contract before this season. That deal, though, is really a two-year deal with $81 million fully guaranteed at signing. The Giants would incur a $22.21 million cap hit by making Jones a pre-June 1 cut in 2025.
Jones had has best season in 2022, leading the Giants to the playoffs. Jones returns to the lineup on Sunday for the Giants after missing 3+ games with the second neck injury of his career. He had a season-ending neck injury in 2021. This second injury is less severe than the first one, but two neck injuries in three seasons has to be factor into the Giants’ thinking in the upcoming draft.
Before he was injured this season, things had not gone well for Jones. The Giants were 1-4 in games he started, he had only two touchdown passes with six interceptions (yes, at least a couple of those were not his fault), a career-low 71.7 passer rating. With a porous offensive line causing Jones to face pressure 46.2% of the time, more than any quarterback except Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears, Jones’ decision-making was also coming into question.
As a team, the Giants are last in the league in points, averaging just 11.9 per game.
The Giants’ added a second-round pick in the upcoming draft when they sent defensive tackle Leonard Williams to the Seattle Seahawks. As or today, that gives them picks 3, 35, 58 and 69 in the draft. That gives them ammunition to use for a potential move up in Round 1 should they want to pursue that path.
Earlier in the week, we wrote about how this nine-game stretch to end the season could shape the Giants’ long-term thinking at quarterback. The presence of Schoen and other Giants’ evaluators at Saturday’s Williams-Penix duel only reinforces that notion.