The first time the Giants organization seemed to really begin thinking about what comes next at quarterback after Eli Manning was about three years ago. They still had plenty of time back then, but seemed to understand it would run out fast.
Still, they have declined to address that need ever since — at least not in the first round of the draft — and suddenly they are standing at the end of Manning’s road. He’s 38 and his contract is up at the end of the season, but the Giants have no replacement ready because they have continually kicked this hugely important decision farther and farther down the road.
And yes, even now, they might do it again.
There still is no guarantee that the Giants will select Manning’s replacement with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft. In fact, some around the league are convinced they won’t. The Giants seem to really believe they are close to being a playoff contender if they can build up the team around Manning just a little more. So they might use the sixth pick on a player who can immediately help.
That would leave them to find their future franchise quarterback in either a later round or, more likely, a future draft, which might not be the soundest strategy. But if that’s the way they choose to go, here are seven players they might choose at No. 6 instead:
OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
GM Dave Gettleman loves his Hog Mollies. More importantly, he needs some. This 6-foot-5, 301-pounder was dominant in college and he could be a Day 1 starter at right tackle (and a future starter at left tackle). The Giants could then use their free-agent money on a right guard (probably by re-signing Jamon Brown) and, just like that, they will have seemingly fixed their offensive line issues. They believe that’s the key to getting more out of Manning late in his career.
DE Rashan Gary, Michigan
They generated no consistent pass rush last season and the 6-foot-4, 281-pound edge rusher could help fix that. He’d provide another option to help linebackers Olivier Vernon and Lorenzo Carter as part of a pass-rush rotation. He does have some red flags. A shoulder injury led to a disappointing season last year, when he had 6 1/2 sacks (after registering 11 1/2 the year before in four more games). But if he proves healthy at the combine, teams will fall in love with his potential again.
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
There’s some debate over whether he’s a better fit for a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 linebacker, but there’s no doubt the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder is the most productive pass rusher in the draft. He had 21 sacks over the last two seasons (including 11 1/2 last year as a junior). There’s a feeling that if he shows a little more speed than expected at the combine or at his pro day that he will cement himself as a top-10 player, if not top-five.
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
The bigger need for the Giants is the outside pass rush, but Oliver could really help the interior push. The Giants like DE B.J. Hill and DT Dalvin Tomlinson inside, but neither have shown a consistent ability to get to the quarterback. At 6 feet, 1 inch, and 275 pounds, Oliver is a little undersized, but he’s so quick he could really be a disrupter as a 3-4 defensive end and clear room for whoever the edge rusher is.
OT Juwaan Taylor, Florida
He is a monster run blocker with monster size (6-5, 334) who would look terrific as an anchor at right tackle leading the way for Saquon Barkley. His pass rushing needs improvement, according to some scouts, but he was pretty dominant in college overall. There are definitely some who like him as much as, or even better than Jonah Williams.
CB Greedy Williams, LSU
They have bigger needs than at cornerback, especially if Sam Beal, their supplemental pick from a year ago, comes back healthy. But the size of Janoris Jenkins‘ contract means he’s not a long-term solution. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound Williams could be. He’s outstanding in coverage and has great speed. His only drawback is that he’s not a terribly physical player and needs to put on a little more muscle.
LB Devin White, LSU
An inside linebacker not known for getting after the quarterback isn’t really a huge need for the Giants. But in a 3-4 defense, they need linebackers and the 6-feet, 240-pound White might be the fastest and smartest in the draft. A lot of scouts use the words “leader” and “star” when talking about him. He’d likely be an upgrade over B.J. Goodson and an eventual replacement for Alec Ogletree, who has no more guaranteed money and becomes cuttable after this season.