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New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks
90+: Elite, All Pro
85-89: Immediate starter, building block for a decade, franchise player
80-84: First round talent, starter and/or majority of the snaps each week
77-79: Day 2 pick, starter within their first 16-24 games as a pro
75-76: Fourth rounder, has starter traits but needs development
71-74: Fifth/Sixth rounder, should develop into weekly contributor over rookie contract
68-70: Draftable, hopeful for special teams impact and long term development
67 and under: UDFA
*NFL Comparison are not a projection of how good they are, more so their style of play.
WHERE THEY STAND
NYG is in a familiar place. They are “stuck” with an aging Eli Manning at QB, a top 6 pick in the draft, and unsure if they should use that pick on one of the class’ top rated signal callers or use it on a higher graded player who can help build the foundation of the current rebuild. Nobody believed this QB class was going to live up to anything special last summer and here we are days before the draft and that notion remains the same. Drafting a QB at 6 would be, by almost all accounts, a reach. But because we all value the position more than others and some believe a new, young QB alone is going to reverse the fortunes of this franchise, many want to go get our guy in round 1. I won’t say it is a bad idea, but buyer beware when you shop hungry. The Giants are building a better roster and culture around their two time Super Bowl MVP quarterback and even though there is no denying he as seen better days, Manning has not fallen off a cliff. He is still a threat to win games if the supporting cast is there. Behind him, there appears to be next to nothing.
1: Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State – 6’3/233
Summary: Fourth year junior entry who was the main guy for Ohio State for just one season, although he got his feet wet initially in 2016. Haskins played behind all-time great (collegiately) JT Barrett. While he had to wait his turn, Haskins came in prepared and took full advantage of the starting role in 2018. He threw for 50 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards with his best football being played down the stretch. Haskins two standout traits; accuracy and intelligence. This is a kid who truly understands concepts and understands how to react quickly, swiftly, and efficiently. When it comes to throwing the ball, he rarely misses his target when he throws from a steady position. The issue that popped consistently was a lack of carry over to being under pressure. Haskins is not a good athlete, as he plays heavy-footed and tight-hipped. The lack of fluidity below the waist is a problem and could really impede his progress in the league. He projects as a starter but the fact he started for just one year and shows mechanical problems means he needs to sit for at least a year.
*Throughout the entire pre-draft process, Haskins has always been the guy who I trust the most. Accuracy, decisions, and swagger in big situations are standout traits that I think carry over into the NFL very well, especially a market like New York. Haskins has a few things that he really needs to clean up, however. His lower body is a mess and he didn’t respond well to productive pass rushes. I also have a few concerns with the fact that Ohio State was loaded with talent all over the place. There are also some concerns with weight management and being professional in his approach off the field. Not a troublemaker at all, but some question if he can change and lead a locker room. I thought that was notable. In the discussion at 6 I’m sure, but another one I would rather hold off on until 17.
NFL Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger / PIT
2: Daniel Jones – Duke – 6’5/221
Summary: Fourth year junior entry. A three year starter and two time team captain. Despite playing with inferior talent both up front and at the skill positions nearly every week, Jones put together a productive career as both a passer and rusher. The prototypical quarterback when it comes to size and playing style showed glimpses over the past two years of what a first round QB should look like. His NFL-caliber mechanics from head to toe give him the look of a professional passer and him being coached by David Cutcliffe, the college coach of both Peyton and Eli Manning, only helps strengthen the notion of how ready he is. Jones pairs that with toughness and grit that doesn’t come around often. However, there were constant red flags in his tape that are hard to ignore. He didn’t see things well and his decisions were too inconsistent. There just seemed to be a lack of a true feel for the pocket, the defense, and angles. Jones checks a lot of boxes but there is a lot of gamble in the team that takes him even though he comes across as a “safe” bet to some.
*I wanted to like Jones more than this, I really did. I have a thing for tough quarterbacks and I do think he brought his teammates to another level. That’s a trend that can really make a kid break out in the NFL. While I do have a 1st round grade on him and I do think he can be in play at 17 because of the position he plays, I think NYG may need to steer clear here. Jones has enough arm strength, touch, and athletic ability. But there isn’t a quick mind here, he doesn’t see everything a top tier QB does whether it is coverage or pass rush based. After a long time scouting him, he is a pass for me.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Tannehill / TEN
3: Drew Lock – Missouri – 6’3/228
Summary: Three-plus year starter from the SEC who was among the conference leaders in the big passing statistics each year despite multiple schematic and coaching changes. Lock’s special arm talent earned 2nd Team All SEC honors as a senior, the first time he completed over 60% of his passes as the program introduced more pro passing concepts to the offense. The upside with him is higher than any passer in the class, as he possesses the rare ability to flick to wrist and shoot the ball out of his hand deep downfield with no wind up or warning. Lock has several plays on tape that scream top tier first round pick but the lack of consistency when it comes to accuracy and mechanics are alarming. The two are usually tied together, thus the notion that he can hide the issues with time to work on the details of the position is out there. It’s hard to imagine, however, after 1,200 passing attempts in college and seeing where he ended mechanically that all of the sudden those issues will disappear. The margin between his floor and ceiling is as wide as anyone.
*I remember watching him for the first time in the fall of 2017 and I immediately thought Matt Stafford 2.0. The release, quick and easy zip on his balls, and athletic base were attractive but I can’t get past the inconsistencies across the board. There are so many easy throws that he missed, so many times where his mechanics were a train wreck. Sure, you can say these things will change once he gets into an NFL coaching environment but I am of the thought that after the amount of experience he’s had and the mistakes he is still making, we will see more of the same in the NFL. That, to me, is not a franchise QB.
NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler / FA
4: Kyler Murray – Oklahoma – 5’10/207
Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Initially began his career at Texas A&M but transferred to the Sooners program after just one year in Aggie country. Was a two-sport athlete at Oklahoma and was actually the 9th overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft, receiving a multi million dollar contract and signing bonus from the Oakland A’s. The fall of 2018 was supposed to be a farewell-to-football tour for Murray but a Heisman and Davey O’Brien award winning, All American season caused Murray to think otherwise about his future. Ultimately he returned the money to the A’s and entered the NFL Draft, where many expect him to the top overall pick. Murray is a dynamic athlete with quick, smooth, and accurate release. His short limbs and explosive twitch give him a unique level of speed as both a rusher and passer. The height alone makes him a major risk and he doesn’t enter the league with a lot of starting expedience, either. The Murray risk that someone will take in round 1 will be the ultimate case study and a true testament to how much weight analytics can, or cannot, trump over traditional scouting. Murray is a swing for the fences by Adam Dunn, meaning he will be a major whiff or a 500-foot homerun. Nobody would be surprised by his success, nor would it be a shock if he were playing baseball within 5 years.
*I actually think my 77 grade here is generous and part of me thinks his future in the league would be brighter as a running back. His athletic ability may actually be underrated by some because so much of the discussion surrounds his height and ability to throw the ball. But guys, this dude is a legit sub 4.4 runner with outstanding vision and change of direction. Do I want that to be the main weapon as a quarterback? No way, but he is intriguing. I wouldn’t put my job on the line with him, but there is no denying the excitement he brings to the table. But there are so many question marks, big question marks, that I just couldn’t handle him being my guy. There are a few major character question marks I have here too. Let someone else take him and enjoy the show, for better or worse.
NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson / SEA
5: Ryan Finley – NC State – 6’4/213
Summary: Sixth year senior. Began his career at Boise State and had a career to forget there. After his redshirt season in 2013, Finley got a few starts in 2015 before breaking his ankle, forcing him to medically redshirt. He graduates in three years, which made the process of transferring to NC State simple. The three year starter for the Wolfpack put together three straight seasons of 60+% completion percentage and a 60:25 QB:INT ratio in the Wolfpack’s pro style offense. The two time All ACC quarterback had a span of 339 passes without an interception which approached Russell Wilsons school record 379 attempts, an FBS record. Finley is a smooth and under-control signal caller who makes good decisions in all situations. His body needs some more bulk to sustain NFL-caliber hits and he may lack the upside of a true starter, but he will be in the league a long time as a solid backup at least. He lacks the pop but can make up for it with intelligence and accuracy to a point. He will get a shot at some point in his career and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him succeed.
*Finley was my top senior prospect leading up to the 2018 season and finished #1 on #2 on that list. I trust this kid even though I will acknowledge his upside doesn’t approach the guys above. He has a lot of pro-caliber traits to his game, both on and off the field. He still has the high schooler-body and there seems to be something lacking with his twitch and explosion as a passer. He would greatly benefit from a situation like NY where he would fully take in the benefits from watching Eli Manning for a year or two while working on his strength and presence. Finley and the possibility of him being taken day 2 by NYG isn’t discussed enough, it is a real possibility.
NFL Comparison: Sam Bradford / FA
6: Jarrett Stidham – Auburn – 6’2/218
Summary: Fourth year junior. Began his career at Baylor but left the school amid the school’s sexual assault scandal After skipping out on football for a year, Stidham took off once he earned the starting role at Auburn, earning SEC newcomer of the year in 2017. While he didn’t take off in year two, Stidham leaves school as a prospect who checks a lot of boxes and could have his best football ahead of him once he enters a pro offense. He throws a nice ball, plays with a good blend of athleticism and throwing ability, and is always a coach’s favorite. There seems to be a struggle when it comes to reading the entire field and making adjustments when his initial target isn’t there. Stidham will instill the belief he can be a starter in the league at moments but inconsistencies are all over the place.
*I wanted to like Stidham. I have heard great things about him from both in and out of his circle as a person and leader. You know he has the talent, as he’s been the favorite of many QB coaches and evaluators when it comes to workouts. However the tape just doesn’t match the expectations and I question if he has it. Another guy I am not touching until day 3, but I expect him to get drafted earlier.
NFL Comparison: Trevor Siemien / NYJ
7: Will Grier – West Virginia – 6’2/217
Summary: Fifth year senior. The son of a coach, Grier began his career at Florida and lasted 2 years. He got on the field for 5 starts but had a couple run ins with the coaching staff and a suspension that stemmed from a performance-enhancing drug. He sat out 2016 so he could transfer to West Virginia where he started to reach the potential many saw in him as a highly touted recruit. Grier threw over 70 touchdowns and completed over 65% of his passes in the Mountaineers spread attack. The husband and father has some of the best highlight reel throws in the class but he proved to be overly dependent on space and timing. When his rhythm was thrown off and traffic approached his landing spots, Grier’s performance took a step backwards. The accuracy has been overblown, as he struggles to his points on the move. Grier still plays with a sense of entitlement via poor body language and repeatable mistakes. He projects as a backup at the next level.
*Another popular name connected to NYG if we are talking day 2 of the draft. Grier was a hot player in the fall but as the scouting process got deeper and deeper, too many boxes remained unchecked. I don’t see it with him. The arm talent is average, the dealings with pressure are average, his athleticism is average, and I don’t see a leader that elevates others. Grier has some body language issues that strengthen the notion that he is in his own world. I wouldn’t call him uncoachable by any means, but the debate is whether or not he’s worth even trying to work with is enough for me to pass on him unless we are talking day 3.
NFL Comparison: Kirk Cousins / MIN
8: Taylor Cornelius – Oklahoma State – 6’6/220
Summary: Fifth year senior. The long time backup to record setting Mason Rudolph, Cornelius finally got his shot as a senior in 2018 and flashed enough to warrant day three consideration. The tall, wiry, strong armed signal caller has professional athlete bloodlines and high jump accolades dating back to high school. He is a very composed, even keel player who shows tremendous touch on his deep balls and more than enough zip throughout the intermediate route tree. A lack of experience and inconsistent accuracy are red flags, but to think of what this kid can evolve into once in an NFL system is worth the excitement. Day three project with starter upside.
*This kid was originally a walk on at Oklahoma State and won the starting job early over Mason Rudolph. However a change of heart in the 11th hour by the coaching staff put Rudolph atop the depth chart and we know what happened there. It’s hard not to think that could have been Cornelius and after that, it’s hard not to think Cornelius may be really undervalued. He has a lot of work ahead of him but he already proved he can be persistent and he has a lot of attractive tape.
NFL Comparison: Matt Schaub / ATL
9: Tyree Jackson – Buffalo – 6’7/249
Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Three year starter who missed some time in 2017 with a knee injury. The 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, Jackson oozes talent and upside stemming from an enormous frame and elite-level arm. He has a knack for making the highlight reel throws on the move. The two way threat can handle a lot of contact as he plays strong and powerful. Coupling that with his big arm and the fact he is relatively raw compared to other quarterback prospects, Jackson is a day three target who teams will want to take a chance on. He has a lot to clean up when it comes to his long release and lack of lower body engagement. In addition, there will be an enormous learning curve, making Jackson a 2+ year project who teams need to be patient with.
*Those who were going gaga over Josh Allen at this time last year are going to like Jackson. He is similar in that he has a big time arm that is especially notable when he is on the move. Jackson is light years behind when it comes to reading defenses and trusting his mechanics. He is a pretty sloppy prospect who plays like he is in the school yard with a bunch of buddies. While the talent is there, it takes so much more to be a quarterback in this league and he really has a ways to do.
NFL Comparison: Paxton Lynch / SEA
10: Easton Stick – North Dakota State – 6’1/224
Summary: Fifth year senior. Got his first exposure in 2015, filling in for an injured Carson Wentz, going 8-0 as the starter. As a redshirt sophomore in 2016, Stick was named a team captain. He won the national championship in 2017 and 2018, leading the way with a dual-attack approach and knack for making the big play in big moments. Stick is a little rough around the edges but he plays with swagger and grit. He has shown the ability to handle himself well against pressure, holding on to his mechanics and progressions. He will need time to adjust to the NFL but whoever gets this kid in their system will have a high upside player who has more potential than a lot, if not all of the other day 3 quarterbacks.
*Fans will like this kid a lot. He is a spark plug, an exciting, blue collar quarterback who can make a lot happen with his feet. While I do get nervous about guys who rely so much on their legs, Stick has shown enough on tape via his passing skill set to get him a backup spot somewhere in this league. I’m not sure I see a guy who will evolve enough, but having an athlete and competitor like this on the depth chart would be nice.
NFL Comparison: Drew Stanton / CLE
11: Gardner Minshew – Washington State – 6’1/225
Summary: A former junior college national champion, Minshew transferred to East Carolina but never quite took grip of the full time starting gig. He did get some action via injuries to the guy in front of him and played pretty well. Washington State Head Coach and offensive guru Mike Leach took a liking to him and brought him in for a Gradate transfer year. It was the best thing that ever happened to Minshew, as he was won the Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Year award and was among the nation’s leaders in multiple passing categories. While statistics aren’t a great measureable coming from that offensive system, Minshew has something in him that is overly attractive. He has all the swagger and confidence that can make others better. Teammates and coaches at WSU loved him and I think there is a gamer in him that some don’t have. The talent is a little short, but I do think he has enough to get a shot at some point once he gets used to the NFL style.
*I would put it at under 10% odds that Minshew ends up being something in the NFL beyond a backup, but he has something that you don’t see often. The ideal blend of confidence and cockiness that doesn’t rub people the wrong way, but instead makes others better. He is the kind of guy who can make others better, plain and simple. There is a lot of contagious to him and if the talent can be enough and he works hard to clean up his game, he is the kind of backup who comes on the field halfway through a year and rejuvenates a club. Just not sure he can sustain long term success.
NFL Comparison: Case Keenum / WAS
12: Brett Rypien – Boise State – 6’2/210
Summary: A four year starter and four time 1st Team All Mountain West Conference honoree. Ended his career winning the conference Player of the Year Award. Nephew to Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien. Rypien is a statistical compiler who did nothing but produce since the moment he stepped on the field. The debate on him will center around a lack of size, arm strength, and athletic ability. Mechanically and mentally, he has it. But the ceiling on him is capped.
*A lot of college fans like this kid a lot. He does look the part when he drops back and dishes the ball out, but he had it pretty easy in the MWC. He didn’t see a lot of pressure and the system he played in doesn’t necessarily translate to the league. I like him as a smooth and dependable backup with a lot of knowledge of the game, but I wouldn’t draft him with the mindset of him ever becoming more.
NFL Comparison: Brian Hoyer / NE
13: Trace McSorley – Penn State – 6’0/204
Summary: Fifth year senior and a three time team captain for the storied program. McSorley is a gamer in every definition of the word who will lead his way into the discussion of a starting role at some point in his career. The size, arm strength, and overall style of play likely won’t fit in the league but he has made a habit out of proving people wrong. The winning attitude and approach does mean something in the grading process and while he has career backup written all over him, don’t completely count him out.
*Maybe it is the old school mentality I have, but despite the fact I have so many negatives from game notes and grades, I still consider this kid draftable late day 3. I don’t see a big time upside, but I do think he will have value in a QB room at the next level. He is a good team guy to have around and when it comes to the QB position, that is worth something. He had productive career too, so it’s not like we are talking about a stiff. He has talent, can make most of the throws too.
NFL Comparison: Taylor Heinicke / CAR
14: Clayton Thorson – Northwestern – 6’4/222
Summary: Fifth year senior. Son of former Giants quarterback, Chad Thorson. Thorson tore his ACL late in 2017 but was back in time for the start of his senior year. The two time All Big 10 quarterback never had the sexy stats that some of the other prospects putout but the scheme he played in didn’t often give him the opportunity to air it out often. Thorson is a sneaky arm talent with enough foot speed to evade pressure un and out of the pocket. His experience and leadership will be a welcomed addition to any quarterback room but he won’t evolve into a starter.
*Not much to say or see here, except I think Thorson underachieved in 2018 because of the really quick ACL recovery and a lack of talent around him in addition to poor OL play. He is a better athlete than what we saw on tape and I like the maturity level. Carries himself well and plays really smart, but there is no starter upside.
NFL Comparison: Mason Rudolph / PIT
15: Jacob Dolegala – Central Connecticut – 6’6/240
Summary: A three year starter who went under-recruited out of high school because of a shoulder injury. Dolegala was a relative unknown to many throughout the fall but he was on our list last August. The tools are there but his play at a low level of college football was far from dominant. He didn’t see many complex coverages but he still seemed to struggle when it came to multiple reads and progressions. But when this kid lines everything up, he can rifle it like a pro. Underrated athlete too who can take on contact with ease. Long term project but interesting tools.
*This is the kind of kid you draft late and try to hide on the practice squad but judging the amount of eyes that were on him at his Pro Day, you may have to keep him on the 53 to avoid someone grabbing him. Anyway, this is a shot in the dark based purely on tools but there isn’t anyone down this far on the list that has what he has.
NFL Comparison: Cardale Jones / LAC
Jake Browning – Washington – 6’2/211: 69
Eric Dungey – Syracuse – 6’3/222: 69
David Blough – Purdue – 6’’0/205: 69
Nick Fitzgerald – Mississippi State – 6’5/226: 69
Jordan Ta’amu – Ole Miss – 6’3/221
Kyle Shurmur – Vanderbilt – 6’4/230: 67
DrDrew Anderson – Murray State – 6’4/220: 66
Justice Hansen – Arkansas State – 6’4/218: 66
Kyle Kempt – Iowa State – 6’5/224: 66
Andrew Ford – Massachusetts – 6’3/210: 65
Let me start off by saying 2 things. One, this QB class isn’t close to what the 2018 QB class was. Two, Josh Rosen is a couple tiers above all of these guys and as I said in February, I am willing to give up a 1st round pick for him if it came down to that. If WAS offered their 15th overall pick, can NYG maybe offer #6 and get back Rosen plus ARI #33 overall? I think it is a bargain to pay for a franchise QB. If you told me last year at this time that NYG could have Rosen AND Barkley AND 3 picks in the top 37 of the 2019 draft, I am not even thinking about it. That is a no brainer in my eyes.
As for this class, none of these guys should be in play at #6 in my opinion. I think Haskins and Jones stand out as the two guys I could see evolving into “franchise QBs” in the same sentence as someone like Mitch Trubisky, but we aren’t talking elite level guys. It really depends on what you want out of drafting a first round QB. DO you want someone who is simply “good enough” or do you want a guy who is going to take over games and be THE guy for a decade-plus? With where the Giants are now, I personally prefer to use the early picks on building a better team around Eli Manning and come back to the QB situation again in a year because I think you will always be able to find QB prospects with this kind of upside that Jones, Haskins, Lock…etc.
I will be the first to tell you Manning isn’t what he was. His feet are slowing down, his reaction times are slowing down, his arm is getting weaker. But this team can still win with him at the helm just as much as you can win with a fringe-first round talent youngster. A new face isn’t always a better face, remember that. There are red flags with each of the QB prospects in this class who could easily turn this offense into complete mush if they took over, and that wouldn’t even be until next year. Drafting a QB this year just for the sake of it is like covering a cut with a band aid when you really need to get stitches. It is a gamble that may, in the long run, make this awful run NYG is on even worse.
I would rather not see them use another mid round pick on a QB for the 3rd year in a row hoping to get lucky. Late day 3? Sure. But in 2017 NYG picked Davis Webb, I wanted them to choose DT Montavious Adams or CB Desmond King (an All Pro). In 2018 they picked Kyle Lauletta and I wanted them to choose Tyrell Crosby, a versatile backup OL. Point is, those selections are valuable.
If NYG loves one of these kids, then go for it. But not at 6. Draft an impact guy at 6 and trade up from 17 aggressively. Perhaps that is the thought in having 2 first rounders anyway. Time will tell.