Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 1-23-18

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.

(Now that Pat Shurmur has been formally identified as the new head coach of the Giants, our Scott Landstrom found reason to examine the identity of the team's second overall draft pick in April, since Shurmur and the new general manager, Dave Gettleman, will have most of the input deciding on which new millionaire they choose.
Here Landstrom, our resident Game Tape guru, examines the players he feels are the top six in the draft - knowing the Giants will have a choice of five of them, if Cleveland doesn't self-destruct and take someone else)

By Scott Landstrom

So now that the Giants have announced Pat Shurmur as their new Head Coach, the next real question on the table for this franchise involves how it will choose to spend the first round selection, the second overall draft choice in April's NFL Draft.

I mean, there have only been two times that the Giants have had a "top four" selection in the draft in the past 40 years, and the two players they ended up with in those two drafts were merely Lawrence Taylor in 1981 and Eli Manning in 2004 -- two of the top five most impactful players to ever play a down for the New York Giants.

Oh, and both of them led their teams to not one, but two to Lombardi Trophies with their excellence.

So "getting this pick right" has ENORMOUS weight on it because of how rare it is to find a team like the Giants nearly at the top of the draft board.

Which brings us to the quarterback position, where franchise icon Elisha Manning comes off a very mediocre year, and will turn 38 next January - an age where very, very few (Tom Brady being the notable exception) players can survive the pounding and perform at a high level.

So most experts have the Giants drafting their next franchise QB (if they don't trade down) to either sit for a year and learn behind Manning, or start playing even in their first season - depending on Eli's level of play, possible injuries to him behind a recently very "leaky" offensive line, and the development of the kid we take, should we go ahead and choose a QB with that pick. But who to take?

Heard an interesting "take" from one of the talking heads on the draft, as follows: "If I had to bet my life on a rookie quarterback starting an NFL game next weekend, I would bet it on Baker Mayfield to win it. If you gave me one season of grooming and I had to bet my life, I would take Josh Rosen. If you gave me five years out and asked the same question, I would take Sam Darnold."

Interesting ... a different answer for each of the "now, one year from now and five years from now" time frames.

Here is my take on the six players in contention, in my mind, if the Giants stay put at the No. 2 overall pick. Thus, I am saying I am betting one of the following six players will be a Giant next summer:

--- Josh Allen, Quarterback, Wyoming - 6-5, 234. Allen is who Mel Kiper has going No. 1 to the Browns, ahead of the Giants, and thus may be the only player "off the board" for them when they have their turn to select. He is a physical specimen with the most athleticism of any of these prospects, but only completed 56 percent of his passes, and did not play great against a couple of top programs.

Yes, he had a good bowl game, but that a career does not make. Is not used to playing against elite talent, but at 6-5 and 235 - looks like a Carson Wentz clone, and who wouldn't want that in this copycat league? Highest "upside" but least established in terms of track record of success against top competition. Probably the least NFL-ready to step into an active role of any of the top four QBs, but perhaps with the highest "ceiling" given his size, speed, athleticism and arm strength. I think it very likely that Kiper is right, and Allen is off the board after the Browns select.

--- Josh Rosen: Quarterback, UCLA - 6-4, 218. Rosen is the best "arm talent" right now in the draft. Throws the "prettiest spiral" (with exceptional rotational spin) of any prospect in the past few years. One draft expert said: "They say a high school QB can hit a door at 30 yards. A college QB can hit a specific panel on the door. An elite college QB can hit the door handle. Rosen can put it through the keyhole and unlock the whole door."

I have two concerns with him - first is durability. He has been hurt several times in college, more than the other three elite players at this position. Secondly is whether he really loves the game the way you have to in order to thrive in the NFL, or if he just loves what the game brings to him. Possible concerns about selfishness and egocentrism (see: Jay Cutler, Johnny Manziel). Still, the most likely guy the Giants will draft at this point provided he can convince Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur that he really loves the game of football.

--- Baker Mayfield Quarterback, Oklahoma - 6-1,208. Mayfield, quite simply, is a wonder. Against a "murderers row" final eight games of his career (Kansas State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia, TCU again, and Georgia) merely AVERAGED 47 points, including hanging 48 on a Georgia team that would hold eventual champion Alabama to 23. Led the nation in passing efficiency, as well as total passing yards, and was beloved as a fiery, inspirational team mate.

"Walked on" not once but twice in his college career, first at Texas Tech, then at Oklahoma - and ended up being awarded the Heisman Trophy, as unlikely a story as you will see. But he is just over six feet tall, and has had a few off-field issues, which incites memories of the Manziel debacle. Still, looks to me like he is the best COMPETITOR of the group - a Joe Theisman type. I think some teams are going to pass on him and live to regret it, but I can't see him going above Rosen or Darnold.

--- Sam Darnold. Quarterback, USC - 6-4, 235. Second to Allen in terms of athletic frame and upside. Huge amount of talent, but falls in love with his arm on occasion. As many wondrous throws as he made this season, he also tied for the lead in total turnovers at FBS, and that is a very worrisome stat in my book. Could benefit from another year at USC, but he is too highly rated a prospect to allow that to happen - the money is calling. Probably a better raw athlete than Rosen, but he has some mechanics issues that need cleaning up in terms of his balance in the pocket, and his release motion. Huge upside and "ceiling," as is pointed out by the five-year forecast by the one expert to be the best of this class in the NFL by that time period.

--- Saquon Barkley: Running back, Penn State - 5-11, 224. Barkley is viewed as the top college running back prospect since Todd Gurley of Georgia in 2014, so that is saying something. Barkley allegedly runs in the 4.38 range for the 40 yard dash, but at 224 he packs a wallop into his 5-11 frame. On top of over 1,200 yards rushing in his senior season, Barkley led the nation's running backs with 632 yards on 57 receptions, so he is clearly the type of "dual threat" that teams like the Giants covet.

Oh, and he merely set the Penn State football weightlifting record in "clean and jerk" of 405 pounds, which includes all linemen to ever attend PSU. And he benches over 400 pounds as well. So other than super-fast, hitting tacklers like a runaway truck, leading the nation in reception yardage by a running back, and setting all-time university records for strength in the weight room, Barkley is really not very impressive (yeah, right!) This guy has the same height and weight as Emmitt Smith coming out of college, except Barkley is faster, stronger, and a better college receiver.

--- Bradley Chubb: Defensive end, North Carolina State - 6-4, 278. Chubb is considered the best defensive prospect in the entire draft by many of the experts. He had over 10.0 quarterback sacks in each of the last two seasons, along with oodles of tackles, TFLs (tackles for loss), forced fumbles, and batted down passes. One of the rare college players who can exhibit an elite "speed rush" as well as a dominant "power rush" when he chooses. Chubb arrived at NC State as a 225-pound defensive end, and was moved to linebacker because he wasn't viewed as heavy enough, so he went to work in the weight room, and has put on an amazing 53 pounds - probably weighing in at the NFL Combine next spring at around 280.

He destroyed 1-on-1 blocking in college, as a rule, and also exhibited the ability to beat double-teams, a rarity for an NCAA player. Considering how much the Giants have invested in Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, I consider him to be the least likely of the six to be drafted by New York, but when a player draws comparisons to Reggie White and Julius Peppers, you have to sit up and take notice that he may be a "generational talent."

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