The New York Giants’ draft dilemma
A dismal season has granted Big Blue a foundation on which to ignite a complete rebuild of the franchise.
Ownership of the second overall draft pick gives newly-appointed New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman the opportunity to lay out a long-term marker ahead of a new era for the team.
The toxic benching of Eli Manning in Week 13 against the Oakland Raiders, regardless of his return to the starting lineup following the firing of Ben McAdoo, triggered looming and ever-present questions over his future.
An unhealthy animosity in the team’s locker room and dismay among let-down fans has ramped up the pressure on the organization. No doubt that Gettleman feels some pressure to make its favorable draft positioning count.
How the New York Giants make use of the second overall pick will be the subject of conjecture. The last time something similar happened, in 1981, the franchise drafted Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. That fateful decision forever changed fortunes in East Rutherford. This time, the selection could prove telling in the future of Manning and the hopes for his successor.
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First Round Conundrum
Opinions across the NFL remain refreshingly conflicting in regards to who the frontrunner may be. There are three, perhaps four, standout quarterbacks up for grabs.
The New York Giants boast an encouragingly wide selection to choose from – providing they do opt to take a quarterback in the first round.
Mock drafts have often been indicative of the Cleveland Browns taking USC’s Sam Darnold with the first overall pick. That appears to leave UCLA’s more technically accomplished Josh Rosen on the board for the G-Men.
Wyoming’s Josh Allen, however, has recently surfaced as another strong contender to be taken first by Cleveland. This rise has been fueled courtesy of his strong finish to the season and physical durability. He appears to possess a toughness well-suited to tricky AFC North conditions.
In a pass-first league, Rosen’s precision and cannon of an arm make him a tempting option.
That said, doubts over his attitude remain a burden to evaluation of his potential, with Darnold’s thick-skin, leadership and popularity in the huddle and the locker room marking traits seemingly more compatible to life in New York.
Next coach will weigh in
Pat Shurmur, who is likely to be named New York Giants head coach, faces a tough assessment period. The future of 2017 third round quarterback Davis Webb seemingly hinges on the Giants’ draft strategy.
Notable faith in Webb inside the organization has not been reciprocated throughout the league, primarily down to 22-year-old having failed to make a single regular season appearance in his rookie year.
Shurmur’s reputation as a quarterback whisperer, bolstered by his work in transforming Case Keenum into an MVP candidate, teases a productive impact whether it be inspiring another season or two of Manning at his best, crafting Webb into a franchise quarterback or polishing a Rosen or a Darnold into a gem.
The point is, the Giants’ quarterback dilemma will be in safe hands with Shurmur, of course providing the offensive line is adequately addressed.
What about Barkley?
Passing off the chance to acquire Saquon Barkley might well mean missing out on the best player in the 2018 draft. The Penn State running back had 54 catches for 632 yards in his junior season and is expected to go early in the first round, with the Browns having been tipped as a likely destination.
His ability to ricochet through bodies and maintain balance in compact avenues is evident. He combines that trait with his catches downfield and underrated blocking prowess. Barkley appears very much to be an offensive asset capable of thriving in the NFL.
The success of Jacksonville Jaguars star Leonard Fournette serves as another rebuttal against the early selection of a halfback.
The much-bemoaned Giants rushing attack left minor lasting impressions in 2017. Those impressions have spawned questions over whether drafting Barkley would be worthwhile. It’s a worthwhile debate to have.
The Darkwa Factor
To avoid relinquishing a shot at one of the leading quarterbacks, re-signing Orleans Darkwa is a route well worth pursuing.
Related Story: New York Giants: Why Orleans Darkwa is worth the money
The 25-year-old enjoyed a breakout season amid the New York Giants’ woes. While operating in the less than inspiring offense under Ben McAdoo, he accumulated 751 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
In the process, Darkwa asserted himself as a far more productive and convincing contributor than Paul Perkins. He did so even while sharing the workload with promising youngster Wayne Gallman.
Despite the progress and the encouragement, Darkwa and Gallman gave fans, neither offer Barkley’s sheer burst, explosiveness or pure entertainment value. Overlooking the 20-year-old’s star quality will take some mighty resistance.
Many questions remain unanswered. Does Gettleman have it in him to step away from the Manning era? Does Shurmur still have plans for the Giants’ two-time Super Bowl-winning future Hall of Famer? How highly do the Giants rate Webb behind-the-scenes?
These and other questions need to be answered so the team can move forward with a cohesive plan.