EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dave Gettleman understands the high pressure of making the second overall pick in the draft, where he's said he expects to find a Hall of Fame-caliber player. It's even more intense this year, with so many quarterbacks potentially in play.
Pick the right one, and Gettleman could set the Giants up for the next decade. Pick the wrong one, he said, and "You've really hurt the franchise for probably five years. It's a five-year mistake."
But don't pick one at all, and let a great one slide past him - particularly with the Jets picking at No. 3? That's a mistake that could hurt the Giants for a decade, or maybe more.
And that's the dilemma the first-year Giants GM will face Thursday night when he's on the clock after the Cleveland Browns make the first overall selection. With a 37-year-old starting quarterback in Eli Manning, who is signed only for two more seasons, picking the wrong successor is only half of the equation. Just as importantly, they can't let the right successor slip away.
That's why it seems so obvious: The Giants have to pick a quarterback. They have to choose their long-term future over a short-term boost, right?
Actually, Gettleman had a one-word answer for that.
"I say 'Hogwash'," Gettleman said. "How's that?"
That may be the true feelings of Gettleman and the Giants, since many NFL sources now seem convinced they're planning to draft Penn State running back Saquon Barkley - maybe even regardless of which quarterbacks are still on the board. Gettleman has raved about Barkley, including at his pre-draft press conference on Thursday when he called him "a tremendous talent". Barkley is so good, he could vault the Giants right back into playoff contention, assuming Manning really does still have enough left in his right arm.
In fact, in many ways Barkley is a no-brainer pick - but only in the short-term. Sure, he could help the Giants make one last run at the playoffs, and maybe beyond, in what likely are Manning's final two seasons. But what happens in Year 3 when Manning is likely gone and the Giants don't have a successor ready? That, to use Gettleman's words, would seem to be the definition of "Quarterback Hell".
And maybe that's forgivable if none of the quarterbacks in this draft turn out to be great ones. But what if one does? Worse: What if that great quarterback gets right past the Giants and lands with the Jets? There's the potential that could happen with USC's Sam Darnold, who has long been generally considered to be the draft's top quarterback prospect. If the Browns really do take Wyoming's Josh Allen, as so many suspect, Gettleman could have to choose between the best quarterback (Darnold) and the best player (Barkley).
And what if he takes Barkley and spends the next decade watching Darnold become the star who finally turns around the Jets?
That would be tough for everyone to watch while the Giants are riding Barkley to a string of mediocre seasons as they're stuck in an endless search for their next franchise quarterback. And it won't be easy to find one, unless the Giants endure another miserable season and end up back at the top of a future NFL draft.
That's a terrific argument for why many believe the Giants absolutely have to take advantage of their circumstances - being right near the top of a quarterback-heavy draft. Even for a superstar-in-waiting like Barkley, it would seem to be football malpractice to pass on the opportunity to take the quarterback who could lead them for the next 10 years.
"Here's the deal," Gettleman added. "As the GM, I walk a tightrope. I've got to look at the short term and I've got to look at the long term. And I have to take all that into consideration in making decisions. So I'm on that tightrope, doing the best I can with the information I have."
In the end, Gettleman didn't share much about the information he has on this quarterback class, except that he said "I can't compare it to the '83 draft" where Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were three of the six selected in the first round. He didn't sound like he thought it compared to 2004 either, which was highlighted by Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger.
He called the group that includes Allen, Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield "interesting". He said there's "depth" in the quarterback class. He said watching them is like "sitting at Ben and Jerry's. I've got a lot of flavors to look at."
All it takes is one great flavor, though - one that he takes, or one that he lets get away. Even if the Giants take Barkley and he turns out to be one of the greatest running backs of all time, the quarterback decision is going to loom over Gettleman for years to come. Because being in "Quarterback Hell" can be painful for a franchise.
And it's a pain that can end up lasting a heck of a lot longer than five years.