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Giants’ pivot off QB hunt to need-based NFL Draft increases pressure on 2024 season for Joe Schoen, Brian Daboll

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Giants first-round pick Malik Nabers was asked what he makes of Daniel Jones as a quarterback on Thursday.

It was a standard question that 99 times out of 100 results elicits an answer like ‘he’s a great player.’ That is not how Nabers responded.

“I’ll wait until I get here to see all of that,” he said. “I’m just happy to be here.”

It’s not Nabers’ job to judge Jones, obviously. It’s his job to catch passes and score touchdowns. And his answer may have just been a tired 20-year-old trying to move on to the next topic.

But it was an appropriately awkward exchange given where the Giants stand at quarterback after this weekend’s NFL Draft:

In no man’s land, holding hands with a player that they just tried to replace.

GM Joe Schoen claimed he is “comfortable” with his quarterback room of Jones, Drew Lock and Tommy DeVito. But the reality is he tried hard to get North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye in the first round of this draft to no avail.

He included his No. 6 overall pick, his second-round pick and the Giants’ 2025 first-rounder in a trade offer with the New England Patriots at No. 3 overall, sources said, only to watch the Pats stick and take Maye themselves.

Fascinatingly, Schoen pivoted off a quarterback altogether once Maye came off the board, rather than taking the next passer. And some league sources agreed with not just taking a QB like Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy or Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. to take one, assuming the Giants didn’t have them graded that highly.

One executive even said Schoen showed good “discipline” by sticking and taking Nabers, an elite playmaker, to help the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense.

Others, however, did not understand the Giants’ decision given their known interest in moving on, their need to improve the position and their diligent eight-month scouting process of the passers in this class.

The Jets of all teams, with Aaron Rodgers and Tyrod Taylor already on the roster, added Florida State’s Jordan Travis on day three and the Giants still hadn’t drafted a QB.

If Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll wanted to reset the clock and buy more time on their rebuild, drafting a quarterback would have been the best way to do it.

It is no secret that the Giants wanted to get their QB of the future this weekend.

It is no secret that Lock has a real chance to play games for the Giants this fall. He is expected to be the spring QB 1 by default as OTAs kick off due to Jones’ injury status. He will take a ton of snaps during the offseason, including during training camp.

Jones’ injury history, lack of guaranteed money after this year, $23 million injury guarantee for 2025 and subpar performance all are legitimate reasons motivating the team’s actions. DeVito’s brief, fairytale stretch was not indicative that he’s a solution.

The Minnesota Vikings, led by head coach and play-caller Kevin O’Connell, felt McCarthy was worth a high first-round pick. Penix Jr. would have been the best thrower of the football in the Giants’ building the second he arrived.

Without that upgrade, though, Schoen’s strategy after missing out on Maye shifted towards a needs-based approach. It shifted towards trying to fill holes on the roster to win more games now.

As a whole, the Giants’ draft began to take shape as an effort by Schoen and Daboll to improve the current roster as quickly as possible in areas of need for a pivotal third year.

There is pressure on them to make progress, and without the young developmental quarterback buying them time — tied to the Jones contract until 2025 — they need their on-field product to speak loudly and impressively in 2024.

Schoen can push for patience all he wants.

“I know people want instant gratification, but it takes time to build this,” the GM said Friday night. “And then over time, you have guys that are able to create continuity because they play together year over year.”

This regime is entering its third season, though. It’s not unfair to expect a season that isn’t over before it starts, like the Giants’ 2023 campaign.

It isn’t seeking “instant gratification” to expect the Giants to do better than 1-8 in their nine meetings against the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. To do better than 10-18-1 in their last 29 games.

To score more than 15 points per game, especially with Nabers on the field now.

To acquire players and practice and prepare well enough that they don’t endure constant injuries that undercut any promise they actually muster.

It’s all about wins.

It could have been about developing a young quarterback to take over and elevate this offense in both the short and long term, too. That would have created a different context.

Instead, it appears Schoen and Daboll have tied themselves to Jones for this defining 2024 season with the four-year, $160 million contract extension they paid him one year ago.

Daboll, the expected play-caller, is going to have to save his job — if not Schoen’s, too — with Jones or Lock under center.

When it was no secret the Giants sought to move on.

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