It’s QB or trade down for the Giants at number 2

by Adam Nardelli @adamnardelli

The Giants are in uncharted waters with the number two pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. The organization hasn’t picked this high in 37 years when they took Lawrence Taylor number two overall in 1981.

Even with the pressure of picking this high, the Giants shouldn’t have a difficult decision with what do at number two.

It’s a quarterback or it’s trade down, and it shouldn’t be a discussion beyond that. Taking a non-quarterback with the number two pick in THIS draft could be an enormous mistake considering the issues the Giants are facing.

There just isn’t a Orlando Pace type left tackle in this draft, and only that type of offensive lineman is worth taking with the number two pick.

The idea of taking Saquon Barkley at number two is tempting, but short-sighted.. The Giants are a team with a 37 year-old quarterback and an offensive line that needs to be completely rebuilt, so where does taking a running back that high in the first round fit in to the solution?

Yes, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette were each taken fourth in the last two drafts. They’re two of the best backs in the league, but the Cowboys and Jaguars’ offensive lines are light years ahead of where the Giants line is right now.

On top of that, look who led the league in rushing this past year: Kareem Hunt, a third-round pick. In 2016 Jordan Howard was a fourth-round pick and was second in the league in rushing yards.

The point is the difference between a first-round running back and a mid-round running back is often not significant. The only logical solution for taking Barkley in the first-round is trading down, accumulating picks which will help replenish the offensive line as well as a bleak group of linebackers, than selecting Barkley if he drops. However, the possibility of Barkley dropping much seems extremely low after his excellent performance at the NFL Combine.

To clarify, what I’m saying is no knock on Barkley. It’s hard to think he’s going to be anything less than exceptional, but shoring up the quarterback position for the next 10-12 years should be the priority. It’s so much harder to hit on a quarterback taken later in the draft.

Obviously the numbers will change throughout the off-season with teams making changes, but of the NFL’s 32 teams, 18 of their perceived starting quarterbacks at this point were first-round picks. Included in this number is Carson Wentz who is the Eagles long-term answer but may not start the season, and Ryan Tannehill whose future in Miami is questionable. Nevertheless, it’s easy to see that most teams find their solution at quarterback early in the draft. Relying on getting a Russell Wilson in the third-round or a Tom Brady in the sixth-round is hugely irresponsible.

Some may ask what about Davis Webb? Shouldn’t we give him a chance? He very well may turn out to be a reliable starter in the NFL, but passing up on one of the draft’s best quarterbacks at number two for a former third-round pick who has never played in a game is dicey.

Here’s another issue with Webb. If the Giants pass on a quarterback at number two, there’s a real possibility Eli Manning plays out the remaining two years on his contract and continues to be the starter. After 2019, Webb will be going into his fourth season, and also the final year of his contract. The Giants have no fifth-year option on Webb because he wasn’t a first-round pick.

In this situation, if Manning were to leave after 2019, it’s hard to imagine the Giants once again have one of the top picks in the draft. The Giants would be forced to enter the post-Eli Manning era with an unknown Davis Webb in the final year of his contract and probably a veteran free agent. In other words, it would be patch work.

My message to Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur is this: look around the league. Do you want to turn into the Bills or Jets when your quarterback position is in constant flux every off-season? That’s no recipe for winning. Take care of the most important position on the field with your highest pick in decades.