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Latest on Giants’ NFL Draft plans, with team perhaps torn between going with QB or defense

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX — Pat Shurmur knows that time is running out on Eli Manning‘s career, and he’d like to find his successor “sooner rather than later.” But the Giants don’t feel any urgency to do it in this year’s NFL draft.

Especially not with all the pass-rushers and defensive players who could be available for them instead.

“There are a ton of great defensive players in this draft,” a team source told SNY at the NFL owners meetings this week. “As much as we need a young quarterback, I honestly don’t know how we can pass on one of the pass rushers at 6.”

The Giants are a long way from making a final decision, but that’s the great dilemma they are facing right now as they begin preparing to pick sixth and 17th in the NFL draft next month. They are digging deep into all the available quarterbacks, including Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who is a real option for them with the sixth overall pick.

But they also desperately need pass-rushing help, and the lure of the ones at the top of their draft board will be strong.

“We all want pass rush,” Shurmur said Tuesday morning during the annual coaches breakfast at the meetings. “And we all want guys that can affect the quarterback. Being an offensive coach, I know how difficult it is for a quarterback to function when he’s being rushed. So on the flip side of that it’s safe to say we need to get someone that will affect the quarterback.”

That was a particular problem for the Giants last year. They had only 30 sacks — the second-lowest total in the NFL. And they blew several games in the final minutes in large part because their defense wore down and they couldn’t generate much pressure. Making matters worse, seven of those sacks came from linebacker Olivier Vernon — and he has since been traded to the Cleveland Browns.

By the time the Giants pick at 6, the real elite players like Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams figure to be gone. But that would still leave players like Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, and even LSU inside linebacker Devin White on the board.

When it comes to players who can disrupt opposing quarterbacks in this draft, it seems like there’s an endless supply.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of them,” Shurmur said. “Certainly (among) the top-tier guys that everybody is predicting to go (early in the draft). I still watch my son (Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur) get sacked by all those SEC pass rushers, so I’ve seen it firsthand.”

Whether he’s seen enough to convince him to wait on finding Manning’s successor, that remains to be seen. But even after Giants GM Dave Gettleman spoke last month about his “dream” of finding the Giants’ next franchise quarterback and using the “Kansas City model” to have him sit for a year behind Manning, there’s been no sign of any urgency in the organization to put that plan in place.

“Well, there’s an urgency to get better at all positions,” Shurmur said. “There’s quarterbacks on other teams playing at roughly the age that Eli is. The important thing for us is to make our team better.

“How important is it (to get Manning’s successor on the roster now)? If there’s going to be another quarterback playing for the Giants at some point, sooner rather than later. But again, we have things we want to get done with our roster.”

And finding a pass rusher appears to be very close to the top of that list.

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