INDIANAPOLIS - Ernie Accorsi's crowning achievement with the Giants was to find Eli Manning, and set the team up for the next 15 years while winning two Super Bowl championships along the way. In Dave Gettleman's dreams, he does the same thing. He finds the next Manning for the Giants.
And he sure sounds like he's looking to do it right now.
"I told you, and I'm very serious about what I said: I would love to drop a franchise quarterback in this place, and then watch him from Cape Cod and enjoy the hell out of it, OK?" Gettleman said. "That's a gift. That's what I'd like to do for the New York Giants."
To make it happen, Gettleman endorsed what he called "the Kansas City model" as he spoke to reporters at the NFL scouting combine on Wednesday. The Kansas City Chiefs had Alex Smith at quarterback. Then, in 2017, they drafted Patrick Mahomes. That season, Smith played and led the Chiefs to the playoffs, while Mahomes mostly sat and watched.
Then, the Chiefs traded Smith to Washington, paving the way for Mahomes to quickly become the NFL MVP.
The situations are different, of course, but the philosophy is the same. The Giants have a 38-year-old quarterback nearing the end of his contract and career - even though Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said Manning still has "years" left again - and they hold the sixth overall pick in the draft. It would be wise for them to draft a quarterback there, and let him sit behind Manning this season.
When 2020 rolls around, they would then be ready to make what would hopefully be a seamless switch.
For that to happen, though, Gettleman will have to fall in love with one of the quarterbacks. He has seen all the top ones in person - Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, Duke's Daniel Jones, Missouri's Drew Lock, and Oklahoma's Kyler Murray - though he insisted he was still too early in his evaluation process to know how he felt about them for sure. He insisted "you can not reach," especially for a quarterback.
The position is too important. The pick is too big.
"It's a massive decision," Gettleman said. "This is the face of your franchise. He's got to do all the right stuff for all the right reasons. You can't go to bed at night worrying if he's going to come in on time. You can't do that stuff, no matter how talented they are."
Complicating the decision is also the fact that the Giants need a lot of help, and their decision to keep Manning for another season as a starter is an indication that they feel they can be a playoff contender now. It could be tough for them to pass on a player who can help them immediately at No. 6 in favor of a player who will spend most of the year on the bench.
If they do that, though, they kick the quarterback decision into the future again - something they've been doing now for several seasons. Gettleman admitted the Giants can't keep doing that, and assuming there'll be a franchise quarterback available for them in the future.
But he also admitted he believes the true franchise quarterbacks come from the first round, so he's obviously not interested in drafting one on Day 2, and hoping he develops.
That means, to follow the Kansas City model, it's a first-round quarterback or bust. Gettleman wouldn't rule out signing a free agent or making a trade, but realistically franchise quarterbacks aren't often available that way. The draft is where to find them, which is why Gettleman and Shurmur will be all over the quarterbacks for the next two months.
They know time is running out to find Manning's successor, and Gettleman knows he can't put this decision off any longer if he wants his dream to come true.