The Giants are rooting for quarterbacks to fly off the board on Thursday night when the 2021 NFL Draft begins in Cleveland.
With the 11th pick in the first round, New York stands to be one of the largest benefactors of a selection process that could see as many as five quarterbacks taken in the first round. Those five passers could also be taken before the Giants are even on the clock.
It’s already a foregone conclusion that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Clemson star, Trevor Lawrence, with the first overall pick. The Jets’ pick is all but confirmed, too, as they’ve long been linked with BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at No. 2.
The San Francisco 49ers seem to be enamored with Alabama’s Mac Jones at No. 3, bringing a quick end to the Jimmy Garappolo era while there have been whispers that the Atlanta Falcons might consider taking Matt Ryan’s future replacement.
That would remain to be seen if that was either Justin Fields out of Ohio State or Trey Lance of North Dakota State — but they could also be on the radar of other quarterback-needy teams that could potentially alter the landscape of the first round.
The Detroit Lions traded away Matt Stafford this offseason for Jared Goff, but taking a quarterback at No. 7 would at least create competition and a security blanket for the inconsistent passer who could not cut it with the Los Angeles Rams.
Some believe the Denver Broncos could be looking for another option outside of Drew Lock at No. 9.
At No. 12, the Philadelphia Eagles could also be keen on taking a passer. In fact, new head coach Nick Sirianni admitted that he wants to create some competition for second-year signal-caller Jalen Hurts. That’s not happening in their current ranks as their only other option is veteran Joe Flacco.
They traded down from the No. 6 pick earlier this offseason, so it would be puzzling to see them use more resources to try to move back up — but it is worth watching out for.
More realistic teams to make a push into the top-10 would include the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots at 20 and 15 respectively.
Again, that would be all good news for the Giants.
“The more quarterbacks that go, the more players it pushes to us,’’ Giants GM Dave Gettleman admitted last week. “It’s obviously helpful. Frankly, I’d like to see 10 quarterbacks go in front of us. Basically, the more quarterbacks that go, the better it is for us.’’
While it puts further pressure on the shoulders of Daniel Jones to develop into the bona fide franchise quarterback that Gettleman saw him as when shocking the football world two years ago by picking him sixth overall, a quarterback-heavy draft early keeps the Giants’ options wide-open.
Gettleman and the Giants could go a few different avenues with that No. 11 pick.
The top-three wide receivers available will be a hot commodity in LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase alongside Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith — but at least one of them would be available if, say, four or five quarterbacks went in the top-10.
Any of the three would create that much more of an imposing receiving corps alongside Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and the newly-acquired Kenny Golladay.
To improve the secondary further after picking up cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to line up on the opposite side of James Bradberry, the Giants could hone in on Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley or South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, turning the position from once liability to a pillar of strength for the future.
But as always, the overarching theme to Gettleman’s tenure as GM goes back to the offensive line, which he vowed to revamp into an immovable object upon his arrival in December of 2017.
That hasn’t happened yet.
While the line has improved, Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater or Oregon tackle Penei Sewell would add another high-ceiling talent to protect Jones and Saquon Barkley
Plenty of options abound for the ever-so-slightly-improving Giants — and more of them will remain open as long as the quarterback remains the crown jewel of early proceedings.