Jerry Reese was the one who first said back in January that the Giants would use this offseason to at least think about finding Eli Manning's successor. And he was serious about taking a look. In fact, the Giants GM said "I probably looked at more quarterbacks this time" than he has in year's past.
That doesn't mean the Giants will draft their next franchise quarterback next week, though.
It also doesn't mean they won't.
What it means, Reese said, is that the Giants "will keep all of our options open" next week -- and that includes the option of drafting a quarterback in the first round, with the 23rd overall pick of the draft on Thursday night. The odds of that appear long -- especially since with Manning signed for three more years, the Giants may not need a new starting quarterback until 2020.
But they have extensively scouted many of the top ones. Reese made the trip to North Carolina to watch the top prospect, Mitch Trubisky, at his Pro Day, coach Ben McAdoo was at Texas Tech's Pro Day for fast-risng quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and they've had scouts or executives at the Pro Days for most of the others.
It might seem a little crazy to draft a player in the first- or second-round whom they hope won't see the field until their fourth season. But if the right quarterback is there at the right time, Reese said that's something they're prepared to do.
"Who knows what will happen?" Reese said. "If you draft a quarterback in the first or second round, if Eli gets hurt and we don't have a quarterback that is ready to go and you have a quarterback on the roster, you have to get them ready to play. That is the coaches' job to do that. It's our job to have somebody waiting in the wings to play."
That's a necessity, considering Manning is 36 years old and there's no way to know when he'll begin the inevitable decline. But the Giants are also coming off an 11-5 season and consider themselves to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2017 and, perhaps, for another year or two after that. That's why Reese also said that "We think that Eli has some good years left to play for us and we are trying to put good people around him as well and hopefully the offense can pick up the pace more than last year."
A backup quarterback who'll serve three years as a non-playing apprentice does nothing to further that goal, or to help the Giants to win one more championship in the Manning Era. That's why it remains a longshot that they'll take a quarterback early.
Of course, as Reese pointed out, anything can happen. The Giants do have veterans Josh Johnson and Geno Smith on the roster as backups. Neither one of them figure to be the Giants' Quarterback of the Future, though. If an injury or decline forces them to look to the future sooner than later, maybe having a top prospect on the sidelines isn't the worst idea.
"You just take the best player available, however he fits on roster," Reese said. "If you take a quarterback high, if you take him in the seventh round, wherever you take him, you hope that everything falls right for them. If they have to play, you hope it is the right time for them to play.
"But if you are worrying about when is he going to play, when is he not going play, you might miss out on the right player. You just have to take the best player available."
That's a good philosophy for every other position. But isn't quarterback different?
"Yeah, but again, everyone has to get picked somewhere," Reese said. "Last year (Dak) Prescott got picked and people didn't regard him highly and he played tremendous. He was at the right place at the right time, got the right opportunity and he did a very nice job for them."
The difference in Dallas, of course, is that their incumbent starter -- Tony Romo -- was breaking down, having suffered through several injury-filled seasons. Manning seems to still be going strong as one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league.
That might be another good reason to draft a quarterback this year, though. The general consensus among scouts and NFL executives is that most of the quarterbacks in this class won't be ready to step in and play right away. They need time to develop -- time they'll almost certainly get if they're drafted by the Giants.
"It's hard to bring guys right out of college," Reese said. "To play up here is such a different game and the college game is a lot different now, so it is hard for guys to just jump in and play up here right away. But we have seen guys do it."