Dyer: Giants can't draft Eli Manning's replacement

Big Blue has to focus on building the rest of its roster before bringing in a new quarterback, writes Kristian Dyer.
Eli Manning, Patriots, fans
Eli Manning. (Photo: Getty Images)

The mock drafts still have the New York Giants taking a quarterback second overall, this despite recent reports that their new general manager is on-board with Eli Manning leading the team next year.

It makes for a puzzling time for those who write-up the mock drafts, given how the Giants have yet to name a head coach and the fact that the future of Manning (despite the reports indicating the team wants him back) is unclear. Yet to think that the Giants are taking Manning’s replacement second overall is head-scratching stuff.

If recent history has proven anything, it is that very few highly-rated quarterbacks are taken with the intention of letting them sit for a good chunk of their first season. More should sit and learn but most franchises feel the pressure to start a high draft pick early on, especially at quarterback.

Josh Rosen has been the popular pick for the Giants in most of the mock drafts to date, and CBSSports.com’s Chris Trapasso writes that “In this situation, Rosen sits behind Eli for at least half the season before taking over.” It is a plausible argument but it assumes a couple of things.

It makes sense because Manning’s time with the Giants will draw to a close at some point soon — perhaps this year or in a season or two. He’s near the end of his contract and the Giants can let him walk after this season with a minimal cap hit.

But the Giants might not be ready to do so. They also may not be ready to draft his replacement, at least in the first round.

The first assumption by Trapasso is that Manning will get benched at some point this season.

Keep in mind that the Giants quarterback is two years removed from a Pro Bowl campaign and just a year off from a season where he led the Giants to the playoffs. Despite struggles this past year — systemic issues that didn’t start or end with Manning’s play in 2017 — some of the lesser-followed numbers such as completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio still show a quarterback who cannot just start, but in fact take a team back to the playoffs.

That, of course, assumes that they address the offensive line and other pressing issues, but Manning isn’t the issue here. He showed two years ago that he is still elite. Last year, well, Bart Starr or Joe Montana would have had similar struggles on the Giants.

The selection of the UCLA quarterback also assumes that the Giants will ignore the baggage around Rosen. Despite his immense talented, which Trapasso rightfully likens to Manning, Rosen is a nutcase. His political statements and personality are likely to rub the organization the wrong way, something that Giants ownership has traditionally wanted to avoid.

Plus, Rosen in the locker room with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. makes for some serious headaches in the making for likely head coach Pat Shurmur. Talk about a potential powder keg of personalities. This has never been the Giants way and Rosen, although talented, might be weighed down by the off the field issues too much to be taken second overall.

And truthfully, replacing Manning might not be the biggest need for the Giants.

This is a team that needs lots of help on the offensive line, a unit that played a significant role in the entire offense’s struggles last year. They could easily use the second overall pick on an offensive lineman or perhaps trade down to accumulate more picks as there will be teams set to pay a premium should the Giants want to move out of the second pick.

Or if the line is upgraded in free agency, perhaps add a running back such as Saquon Barkley to lift the offense as a whole. Barkley would be a home run pick for the Giants, someone who is a physical runner but talented as a pass catcher as well.

If there is one thing learned from Shurmur’s time with the Minnesota Vikings this year, it is that his system can thrive despite not having an elite quarterback. Manning certainly showed in 2016 that he still is among the best in the league. Perhaps Shurmur can coax a couple more good seasons out of him and there is no need to rush to draft his replacement, especially with so many other pressing needs.

SBNation as well as Bleacher Report, like CBSSports.com, have Rosen going to the Giants in the first round.

 
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