For the moment, there seems to be only one quarterback in the NFL draft that most talent evaluators think is worthy of a Top 10 pick — Dwayne Haskins. If that holds, that means the Giants will have only one shot this April at drafting Eli Manning’s eventual successor.
And the Jets are perfectly positioned to mess those plans up.
Imagine that: The franchise that benefited from the Giants’ decision to pass on franchise quarterback Sam Darnold last April could be the one that pushes the Giants’ search for a new franchise quarterback even further into the future. That’s because the Jets could have several, lucrative offers to trade down from their spot at No. 3 to a team that wants to get up over the Giants for a quarterback.
And there will be offers. There always are when quarterbacks are involved. And if that happens, the Giants’ search to replace Manning might have to wait until a later round — or worse, another year.
Of course, with three months to go a lot can still change. The NFL hasn’t even held its annual scouting combine yet, nor have the Pro Days started. Once those do, it’s possible another quarterback moves up the board as someone worthy of the Top 10. There’s also no guarantee the Giants even want Haskins — one team source said they’re obviously checking him out, but it’s far too early to draw any conclusions. If they don’t, they could be in position to trade down, too.
But if they decide the 21-year-old Ohio State quarterback is their guy, they might have to try and move up to get him. Because when the pickings are slim at quarterback, teams get desperate to move up, which means the Jets could get offered a kings ransom for their pick. Neither the Arizona Cardinals (at 1) nor the San Francisco 49ers (at 2) need a quarterback, which means whichever quarterback is atop the charts will almost certainly be there when the Jets pick.
The Jets obviously don’t need a quarterback either, which means they’ll be willing to listen to offers to trade down. In fact, the next four teams in the draft after the Jets could end up wanting a quarterback, which could spark a bidding war that could make the trade packages huge.
The Oakland Raiders are at No. 4, and are probably the least likely of the Top 7 teams to want a quarterback since they have 27-year-old quarterback Derek Carr signed through 2022. But they are clearly in the midst of a massive rebuilding project, and there has been rampant speculation that Jon Gruden wants to go in a different direction. That would seemingly only be possible if he can somehow unload Carr.
Up next are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 5, and they recently recommitted to starter Jameis Winston. But he’s been trouble off the field, underwhelming on it, and headed into the final year of his rookie contract. Rather than pay Winston a $100-million-plus extension, they could decide to draft his successor now.
And right behind the Giants, sitting at No. 7, is probably the team that needs a quarterback the most. The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to be moving on from Blake Bortles, possibly through free agency. But any free agent they sign — like Joe Flacco, for example — would be a short-term solution. They will almost certainly take a quarterback at No. 7. And if they have to, they’ll try to trade up.
There are other candidates too — the Broncos at 10, the Dolphins at 13, and even the Redskins at 15 now that they reportedly are expecting to be without starter Alex Smith at the beginning of next year. Anyone that wants a quarterback knows they have to get to No. 3 to be absolutely certain they’ll get the player of their choice.
And they also know there’s no way the Jets are trading that pick to the Giants.
So that leaves the Giants stuck if they decide Haskins is their guy. Of course, by April they may lock in on Duke quarterback Daniel Jones or Missouri’s Drew Lock instead. Maybe Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray will eventually wow them, though a source said their initial impressions are that his height (5-10-ish) makes it unlikely they’d draft him in the first round.
But for now, Haskins appears to be the most likely guy for the Giants in a quarterback class that, in general, isn’t as highly-regarded as the class the Giants passed on one year ago. So they may only get one shot at drafting Manning’s heir apparent this spring. But if that’s what they want to do, they’ll find their crosstown rivals could be standing in their way.