The everlasting Quarterback Quandary followed Dave Gettleman into the assembly room inside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, and it will follow him wherever he goes until he solves it.
It will haunt him forever if he doesn’t draft the right quarterback.
Everyone, from John Mara to the cafeteria workers inside 1925 Giants Drive, recognizes the urgency to find a successor to the quarterback whose name used to be Eli Manning but is now 38-year-old Eli Manning. And the urgency is unquestionably higher one year after passing on Sam Darnold and Josh Allen and Josh Rosen with the second-overall pick for Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley.
Gettleman had the same conviction on Barkley that former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi had on Manning in 2004.
He has the sixth and 17th picks in next Thursday night’s NFL draft, and if he hasn’t fallen in love with Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock or Daniel Jones, he should pass on them.
As much as the Giants have made this franchise-quarterback bed by kicking the can down the road to ruin, it is nevertheless risky business and potentially treacherous to draft a quarterback for the sake of drafting a quarterback.
As much as he would love to do for the franchise what Accorsi did for the franchise, Gettleman gets one chance and one chance only to change the post-Odell Beckham Jr. narrative on his legacy.
He has no margin for error.
It doesn’t mean you should be paralyzed by fear of making a debilitating mistake. Not at all. Count me among those who hope he can fall head over heels for one of the quarterbacks.
But don’t force it, Dave.
“If you put a lot of pressure on it, you’re gonna make a mistake,” Gettleman said. “So if you’re asking me how urgent do I feel that we need to do this, I’m not gonna put a level on that. Doing this, you let the draft come to you.”
Gettleman was asked if there are Super Bowl-caliber quarterbacks in the first round.
“There’s a couple, there’s some really good quarterbacks in this draft, yes,” he said.
Because of the nature of the position, don’t you need to draft your guy at six rather than wait for him to fall to 17?
“Depends upon who’s available,” Gettleman said.
He would be surprised if he didn’t like whichever player falls to him at 17. Could that player be a quarterback?
“Could be,” Gettleman said. “Could be a corner, could be a wide receiver, could be a sportswriter.”
Any sportswriter could tell him that Kyler Murray is the front-runner for the first-overall pick by the Cardinals. He doesn’t measure up to the Giants’ measurables for the position, but he will have a first-round grade on most draft boards.
“It’s a good quarterback class,” Gettleman said.
Better than last year’s?
“I’m not going there. Come on now!” Gettleman said.
The 2019 Quarterback Class is not better than last year’s. Rosen is suddenly on the trade market. Have there been conversations with the Cardinals?
“I’m not going there,” Gettleman said.
Gettleman is a graduate of the If You Can Make It Here You Can Make It Anywhere School. To him, Manning is the valedictorian.
“One of the things that I really believe is being a quarterback of a team in this kind of a market is a mental load, and you’ve gotta really vet out the backgrounds of these guys,” Gettleman said. “It’s more than just looking at a guy’s physical talent. It’s about his makeup.”
The 2020 Quarterback Class — Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm — is enticing. The danger of waiting for one of them is that other teams will still need quarterbacks then, too.
“I’m not gonna force a pick,” Gettleman said. “You can’t draft for need. You’ll get screwed every time. You’ll make a mistake.”
Gettleman has mentioned the Kansas City model, where the young franchise quarterback has the benefit of learning how to be a professional from Manning.
“That’s what you’d like to do,” Gettleman said. “Listen, Eli is a pro’s pro and you guys know that. To get a quarterback in here to allow him to learn at the feet, it’d be a sweet deal. Don’t forget about Kyle [Lauletta] now. He’s working on that right now. You’d hate to throw a guy in.”
He has 12 picks, so expect him to wheel and deal to move into the teeth of what he regards as a quality first four rounds. He desperately needs reinforcements for his massive rebuild, especially on defense.
“There’s pressure getting it right every year,” Gettleman said.
Finding the right franchise quarterback is overwhelming pressure.
“The priority is to select the best players,” Gettleman said. “Last year, again, we couldn’t pass up on Saquon. He was the best player in the draft. You can’t do that. … Eli’s closer to 40 than he is to 25.
“But at the end of the day, we’re gonna take the best players.”
Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
Don’t force it, Dave.