INDIANAPOLIS - At some point the Giants will have to think about drafting the next Eli Manning. And this week, at the NFL Scouting Combine, they'll take the first steps towards deciding if this will be the year.
It's a big and difficult decision the Giants face, as they ponder their post-Manning future - something that might not begin until after his contract runs out in 2020. They are always in the market for a developmental quarterback in the draft, but if they choose one this year, they really could be developing him to be a future starter.
That's a long-term project, obviously, and it's not an easy thing to do at all.
"It's a challenging position to develop, first of all," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said on Wednesday. "But to find a guy that you can develop is probably even more challenging. It's probably like the rest of the positions, I just think there's a magnifying glass on it."
There is a huge magnifying glass on the quarterback position and there'll be an enormous one on any quarterback the Giants select this year since Manning is 36. Also, at the end of last season, GM Jerry Reese - who is refusing to speak to the media at the combine this week, admitted that because of Manning's age "we have started to think about who is the next quarterback" and "we will look into that as we move into the offseason."
The Giants seem likely to draft a quarterback this year - almost certainly not in the first round, but anything beyond that is a possibility -- whether they see their pick as the heir-apparent to Manning or not. At the moment, Manning is the only quarterback on their roster with Ryan Nassib and Josh Johnson both free agents. Nassib is also coming off elbow surgery and it's not known if he'll even be ready for spring drills or summer training camp.
So the Giants will at least be looking for a backup and might be looking for a future starter. Mostly, though, they'll just be looking closely as the quarterbacks go through their interviews and combine drills.
"I think this is a good week to really get them on the board a little bit," McAdoo said. "Just to hear them talk about football in general, fundamentals, get a chance to take a look at their profile, their throwing motion, them dropping a little bit, winging it, see how they do with receivers they haven't thrown to before, see if they can build chemistry as the workout goes on a little bit, see if they have a little bit of rhythm in their body. Having rhythm in your body's important."
McAdoo said it's too early to say whether the Giants would consider bringing Johnson or Nassib back, or to offer any evaluations at the quarterbacks in the draft.
"It's early in the process," he said. "We're going to go through and evaluate the free agents like we did, then we're going to take a good look at the draft class and see what's best for the organization moving forward. But it's too early to tell."