EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Dave Gettleman and the New York Giants have to answer one question heading into the NFL draft with the second pick overall.
Is there another Eli Manning?
If the new general manager is convinced there is a guy who can lead to the team to a couple of Super Bowls — and the Cleveland Browns haven’t taken him — the Giants grab a quarterback.
It’s that simple when you are coming off a 3-13 season and Manning is 37 years old. General managers don’t pass on quarterbacks who have the potential to make everyone on the team better. That’s what Ernie Accorsi did in 2004, when he engineered a blockbuster draft-day trade for Manning.
Accorsi was convinced Manning was a can’t-miss QB, and it didn’t hurt that the Ole Miss product didn’t want to play on the West Coast. So the Giants packaged Philip Rivers, who they took with the No. 4 pick overall, their third-round pick that year and their first and fifth-round choices in 2005 and sent them to San Diego.
It was a big price. The return was Super Bowl titles after the 2007 and ’11 seasons. Well worth it.
“When you’re picking this high, if you make a mistake, you’re done,” said Gettleman, who was hired to replace the ousted Jerry Reese. “We talk that when you miss on a quarterback, you really hurt the franchise for probably five years. It’s a five-year mistake. Yeah, it’s a big decision, but as long as you’ve done your homework and turned all the rocks over, you will come to the right answer. You ask the right questions and you will get the right answers.”
Four quarterbacks in the draft class are attractive: Josh Allen of Wyoming, Sam Darnold of Southern California, Josh Rosen of UCLA, and Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.
“It’s a really a neat group to evaluate because they are all different players,” said Gettleman, who spent four-plus seasons as the general manager of the Carolina Panthers before being fired in July. “With the second pick, I’m sitting at Ben and Jerry’s and I’ve got a lot of flavors to look at and they’re all different.”
Manning seemingly has a year or two left in the tank, so there will be no rush to play a rookie if the Giants pick a quarterback.
If they decide not to, they have needs at running back, a pass-rushing lineman with the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa, and on the offensive line.
Saquon Barkley of Penn State clearly is the top running back. He offers the added bonus of being a return man.
Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State is the top defensive end, while guard Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame is probably the most NFL-ready offensive lineman, although guards usually are not taken this high.
The other needs can be filled in later rounds.
The release of veteran receiver Brandon Marshall will have New York looking for a big receiver for the offense being installed by new coach Pat Shurmur. He replaced Ben McAdoo, fired less than a year after leading the franchise to its first playoff berth since the 2011 season.
Signing Kareem Martin as a free agent and acquiring Alec Ogletree in a trade with the Rams gave the Giants outside linebackers for the new 3-4 system of defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Gettleman needs some inside linebackers. B.J. Goodson was good when healthy last season, but an ankle injury limited him to seven games.
Failing to fix the offensive line was a major reason last season went south and Reese was canned in early December. Gettleman is good at finding hogs. He signed tackle Matt Kalil as a veteran free agent and guard Andrew Norwell as an undrafted college player while drafting guard Trai Turner and tackle Daryl Williams in his time with the Panthers. Since joining the Giants, he signed free agent left tackle Nate Solder, allowing Ereck Flowers to move to the right side. Brett Jones returns at center, but the rest of the linemen need to improve. Finding a good guard or two in the draft will fix the problem.
HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINS
Tight end Evan Engram (first round, 2017) and Odell Beckham Jr. (first round, 2014) have been outstanding picks. Cornerback Eli Apple (first round, 2016) and Flowers (first round, 2015) have been disappointments. The Giants have done well in the second round with defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (2017), receiver Sterling Shepard (2016) and safety Landon Collins (2015). After the second round, the Giants have missed the target more often than not.