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Giants Rightly Passed on a QB in the 2024 NFL Draft

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NFL head coaches and, to a lesser extent, general managers are beholden to a constantly optimized set of expectations. It’s not enough to simply secure the quarterback of the future, but to have, like the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans, a roster pre-baked so to speak and ready to compete by the time the quarterback arrives. Thanks to both GMs Joe Douglas and Nick Caserio in back-to-back years drafting both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year, the idea that a team’s fortunes could change dramatically over the course of two drafts and that a rookie belongs in the playoff conversation are more prevalent than ever. 

The word “rebuild” will almost certainly be removed from the lexicon. 

It’s in this world that the New York Giants exist and, as we digest the happenings of the 2024 NFL draft, we should commend them for sitting tight and building their roster around whomever wins the QB1 job long term. I don’t want to speak for GM Joe Schoen but I think the math on this one was pretty simple: 

  • Brian Daboll + J.J. McCarthy/Michael Penix/Bo Nix = X
  • Brian Daboll + A Geno Smith-style-Drew Lock Gamble/Daniel Jones+Malik Nabers+The continued freedom to move on from Jones with another veteran in 2025 free agency, or to move up in the ’25 draft with fewer teams looking at quarterbacks and a better roster = 2X. 

Living in the greater New York area, the failure for most people acknowledging that Daboll is the best coach the team has had since Tom Coughlin (and it’s not even remotely close), in addition to the fact that he is the best individual mentor of the quarterback position the team has had since Mike Sullivan or Kevin Gilbride, is fairly stunning. While he took a back seat to the Tommy DeVito-hype train, he was almost certainly the stabilizing force behind it. Nevermind that he coached well enough in his debut season to earn Jones a contract (four years, $160 million) that ownership was all too eager to dole out given their personal affections for the quarterback. 

Daboll’s interest in Drake Maye was, as colleague Albert Breer noted, part of the reason why the New England Patriots were so eager to hold onto the pick and draft Maye in the first place. 

So we have in front of us the confines in which the Giants’ coaching staff and GM must perform (steady improvement combined with the ultimate securing of the franchise quarterback) against the backdrop of a draft offering the Giants a chance to select Jones’s replacement, or make their current space more hospitable once the savior finally arrives. 

I don’t think it’s controversial to predict that, even if Jones isn’t healthy, the Giants would be infinitely more successful and with a higher immediate upside with a 27-year-old Drew Lock than a rookie quarterback Daboll was not overly confident. 

We’re learning just now, after one offseason where Baker Mayfield signed a hefty extension and two seasons after Smith signed a “long-term” deal that quarterbacks can continue to ascend into their early thirties and that they may have simply gone a long period of time without coming into contact with a coach talented enough to utilize their skill set. Look at Smith’s past before he arrived here. Lock, who was stuffed into a similarly hopeless Broncos roster now three head coaches removed, may also have untapped talent akin to that of Smith or Mayfield. 

Now, in 2024, Daboll and Schoen have the ability to compete without the added headaches of a rookie pinballing around in the pocket, someone their tenure is ultimately beholden to and whose potential failure would inevitably cause them to get fired. The Giants’ offensive line will look better and develop sooner with a quarterback who is more likely to get rid of the ball sooner. Their defense is not going to be forced to be as heroic, and may actually get to play with a lead at times. 

Forcing themselves to fall in love with a quarterback led them to this position. And, remember, no team at the top of the 2021 draft, where three signal-callers were taken with the top three picks, is particularly thrilled with how that exercise went. This year, there wasn’t even an option to get into the top three, if you believe the narrative that New England firmed up its decision more than a month ago but kept up the appearance of an interested seller in the meantime. Deciding to be patient, while also winning more games in the interim, will get them out. The space between will be more palatable, and the Giants will be one step closer to waking up one day not wondering who their quarterback will be over the next four years. 

Coaches and GMs don’t really have time to do this the old-fashioned way—suck, pinball around, pray the quarterback develops and doesn’t acquire a boatload of bad habits—so it should provide some degree of comfort that the Giants are following in some solid footprints. 

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