The legend of New York Giants quarterback Tommy Devito continues to grow. He’s gone from undrafted free agent to NFC Offensive Player of the Week, from local New Jersey high school legend who was a cute story to ‘Tommy Cutlets,’ rescuer of a Giants’ season gone horribly wrong.
Is it real? Is it sustainable? Did NFL draft evaluators miss the boat? How did this happen? Big Blue View asked some of the best draft evaluators in the business for their thoughts. Below, the results.
What was your pre-draft evaluation of DeVito? Did you see him as a draftable player?
Dane Brugler: DeVito was my No. 16 ranked quarterback in the 2023 class. He took a major jump from what he put on film at Syracuse compared to his 2022 tape at Illinois. A lot of constants on tape, both good and bad. Like his toughness and ability to distribute the football. But also the inconsistency with his footwork and decision-making. I was encouraged by the improvements he made in 2022, but consistency questions were too much to put a draftable grade on him.
Matt Waldman: I didn’t study him.
Mark Schofield: I thought he was a fringe draftable player, someone in that 7th Round/UDFA area. Decent arm, functional athleticism, and a quarterback that probably projected best to a West Coast/Spread type of offense that would rely heavily on the quick game, RPO designs, and schemed shot plays downfield.
Emory Hunt: See my scouting report:
Very good throwing mechanics and arm strength. Shows that he can drive the ball to the opposite hash with consistency. Will be able to make those throws in the pros. Good on timing routes, as the ball comes out quickly and the placement is generally good. Not a negative, but is a solid game-manager type who does a solid job of protecting the ball, the drive and the series. Keeps the offense on pace.
Areas of Improvement:
Seems to be a tick late with his anticipation on certain throws. Passes would be best in perhaps the first window, but instead he makes a more difficult throw in the second window. Pocket presence leaves a lot to be desired. Takes some unnecessary sacks and hits because he’s not quick to get out of dodge. Fought through some injuries throughout his career. You wonder about overall durability.
Whatever DeVito was at Syracuse and Illinois he wasn’t ‘this.’ Did evaluators miss something, or is this one of those unexplainable things that happen in sports sometimes?
Dane Brugler: Development isn’t linear. Different coaches and situations help unlock a player’s talent. Obviously, DeVito struggled mightily in his first few appearances, but credit to him for bouncing back and shows that toughness that we saw in college. The biggest variable for young quarterbacks in the NFL is mental toughness - some quarterbacks can be destroyed by the inevitable lows while others can move past them and be better for it. DeVito is in the latter category.
Matt Waldman: Because I didn’t study him, I can’t answer that question.
Mark Schofield: Honestly, I’m leaning towards the latter. This does feel like one of those “unexplainable” things that happen in sports, but that should not take away from what DeVito is doing, how the Giants have certainly rallied around him, and some of the things they are doing with him schematically/conceptually.
There is also the idea that one of the toughest things to gauge in a prospect is what is inside them. Heart, character, competitive toughness, etc. DeVito seems to have all those boxes checked with how he is playing, and maybe teams missed on that element. Quarterbacks get pushed up draft boards all the time, and if teams had an inkling that he possessed those characteristics pre-draft, I think you might have seen him drafted.
Emory Hunt: I think this is an example of coaching and opportunity, and he’s making the most of it.
Are the Giants playing differently or better than with Daniel Jones/Tyrod Taylor to support DeVito? Or is his enthusiasm/swagger/ability MAKING them better?
Matt Waldman: After reviewing DeVito’s performances against the Patriots and Packers, if there’s any significant difference with DeVito’s game that separates him from Jones and Taylor it’s his pocket management and quick processing of information. Jones has had difficulty with identifying when to take appropriate action against pressure in the pocket. Taylor tends to buy time with dramatic movement to abandon the pocket first and hope he can have a receiver re-route for him. The greatest strength from DeVito’s game that I’ve seen thus far that is vital for long-term success as an NFL quarterback is his efficient maneuvering of the pocket so he can avoid pressure, reset his feet, and find the open man in quick succession. The less a quarterback forces his receivers to re-route against pressure the more success the offense will have.
Mark Schofield: Both, I think?
As noted earlier I do think there is an enthusiasm at work here, as well as a team rallying around him. Saquon Barkley went all in on getting DeVito’s back when he took over, and that kind of leadership certainly helps.
But I do think you’re seeing some elements to this offense, that while they were present for Jones/Taylor, they are leaning into a bit more. RPOs. QB run elements, Wildcat designs, even some trick plays here and there. I think Kafta and Daboll have done a good job at helping him.
Emory Hunt: DeVito is playing how Tyrod played. The difference between them and Daniel Jones is that the ball is coming out quicker, and the decision to take off and run is happening quicker. Those two things are why you’re seeing what you’re seeing. Notice when both Tyrod and Devito have been in the game, you’re talking less and less about the offensive line play, right?
Is what DeVito doing sustainable, or is it Fool’s Gold?
Matt Waldman: His pocket management is not a fluke. He has quick, precise feet with his drops, pocket movement under pressure, and even as a runner. He’s also reading coverage effectively and taking what the defense gives him—attacking where the defense is giving the greatest cushion to a receiver as well as placing the ball where the receiver has the best opportunity to create more space.
His processing has been quick—meaning there’s little hesitation between what he identifies as a viable decision and the precise execution of that decision. To be clear, most NFL teams wait 4-6 weeks to begin game-planning specifically against a quarterback based on their scouting reports of the passer in the NFL. This is why, year after year, a backup generates excitement early on but his performance deteriorates as opposing defenses begin applying that scouting intel into game plans bit by bit. In a matter of weeks, those bits add up to a “book” on the quarterback. At this point, the quarterback must show he can either grow beyond his conceptual, physical, or technical limitations or that the amount of limitations is small enough that only a few defenses have the personnel and scheme to limit his game.
DeVito has the promise to become a sustainable backup who can perform on the field when called upon. How well he’ll handle specific blitzes he hasn’t seen yet as well as coverage disguises of increasing complexity is the unknown and ultimately whether he can transcend the backup label and become a viable long-term starter.
If DeVito proves he’s capable, he’ll be aspiring to play in the style of former Raiders’ MVP Rich Gannon, a quick-release passer with good timing who had a limited vertical game. Like Gannon, DeVito’s ideal range for vertical targets up the boundary is 35-40 yards. He lacks a cannon, which means he’ll have to compensate in other ways. If he can continue to display quick processing of information and efficient pocket management as opposing coordinators learn how to gameplan against him, hell have a fighting chance.
Mark Schofield: I do think it is sustainable, but I think the ultimate question is whether DeVito’s ceiling is that of a QB you win with, or a QB you win because of. I think, even as good as he has been, he is probably the former. Which, is OK! Teams can win lots of games with a QB like that, and he has certainly given Joe Schoen and company more options than they had in the upcoming offseason just a few weeks ago.
Emory Hunt: They’re not really scoring points and being dynamic offensively if we’re being honest. They’re just much more watchable as a unit. There’s no need to rush to judgment on his future, just continue to let him play and reassess after more tape.
If he can sustain what he is doing, can he be a QB1? Can he challenge Jones for the starting job a year from now? Can he take the Giants, thought by many to be in the QB market in Round 1, out of that market?
Dane Brugler: You never say never, but that feels like a really long shot. If the Giants have an opportunity to upgrade the position this offseason, they have to go for it. But the organization should feel encouraged by what DeVito brings to the quarterback room, regardless if he is QB1 or not.
Matt Waldman: From an organizational management perspective, betting on DeVito to be the QB1 would be foolish even if he proves a year from now that he can challenge Jones or prove that the Giants didn’t need to be in the QB market in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The wisest choice at this point is to draft a quarterback if they believe they can land one this spring with franchise-caliber promise and allow DeVito to compete this summer. Success rates for young quarterbacks are a coin flip. The position is the most difficult in sport. There are multiple combinations of factors (as a player and a leader) that can lead to success or failure for the position. The league is still figuring out how to identify a player who processes information well on the field. And, executives want to rush development when a majority of success stories at the position involve the player getting time away from the field and then intermittent playing time before they are the permanent starter.
The Giants have a potential out with Jones’ contract in 2025. Draft a rookie and let DeVito compete. If the two younger quarterbacks show promise, then they can release Jones. For now, I expect the Giants will see DeVito as a limited physical talent who could have a long-term future as a capable backup and this gives them depth to transition away from Jones by 2025.
Mark Schofield: I think he could challenge Jones for the starting job, and I think he certainly could have taken them out of the QB market. Not just with his play but ... with the wins. If they keep winning games, they might not just be out of reach for QB1 and QB2, but maybe even QB3.
Which could ultimately force the team’s hand in adding at WR or OL, and letting Jones and DeVito battle it out next year.
Emory Hunt: Giants still need a difference maker at the position. What DeVito AND Tyrod has shown you is that issues offensively can be masked with a player who can make quick decisions.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: You can find Brugler’s work at The Athletic, Waldman’s at The Rookie Scouting Portfolio, Schofield’s at SB Nation and Hunt’s at Football Gameplan and CBS Sports. My thanks to all of them for taking the time to participate].