The New York Giants selected quarterback Davis Webb in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Can Webb eventually replace Eli Manning?
The New York Giants were always going to select a quarterback at some point of the 2017 NFL Draft. Eli Manning turned 36 years old this past January, and head coach Ben McAdoo, general manager Jerry Reese and those tasked with running the club needed to think about life without the two-time Super Bowl champion running the offense for the first time since he was awarded the gig all the way back in 2004.
Still, it was somewhat of a surprise when the Giants called the name of Davis Webb with the 23rd pick of the third round (87th overall). Big Blue could’ve used that selection to fill one of several noticeable holes on the roster, such as the glaring gap on an offensive line that routinely hung Manning out to dry during the 2016 campaign (add your Ereck Flowers take here). Instead, Reese and company elected to ignore the club’s “Super Bowl or bust” mentality and plan for the next decade.
Webb is hardly a perfect product ready to step in and take command of the New York offense tomorrow. In fact, opinions on the 22-year-old product of Texas Tech and the University of California vary per analyst, scout and fan. Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports seemed to like the pick, writing “Webb is a good developmental project and he didn’t cost too much.”
Ryan Smith of Pro Football Focus was obviously not as high on the move:
.@PFF Davis Webb is the Christian Hackenberg of 2017. Big arm but struggles with touch and accuracy at all levels of the field. Not correctable.
Dan Benton of USA Today wasn’t sold on criticisms of the Giants taking a flier on the quarterback in the third round, writing “Contrary to what some may say, Webb’s issues are correctable and likely will be over the next few years.” Chris Pflum of Big Blue View noted positives and negatives regarding Webb:
But Webb doesn’t just have a big arm, he has the ability to throw deep with impressive touch to drop dimes right in receivers’ hands.
But despite all that Webb faces a steep learning curve coming out of Texas Tech’s and Cal’s Air Raid offenses. He has never commanded a huddle, never had to play from under center, or do much of anything else a professional quarterback has to do other than throw the ball. He will likely need the time sitting behind Eli and learning how to become a pro. And while his deep ball is undeniably pretty, inconsistent mechanics will need to be improved to improve his accuracy
The reality of the situation is that any and all hot takes about the Giants going out of the way to add Webb to the club’s QB room are silly as of the afternoon of April 29. Manning (knock on wood) has been the ultimate NFL Iron Man since taking over for Kurt Warner during his rookie campaign, something that isn’t a coincidence as Tim Rohan of the MMQB pointed out this past January. Like Peyton, Eli has learned how to take care of himself on and off the field.
Per Spotrac, the dead-cap value on Manning’s current contract essentially guarantees he will start for the Giants up through the next two seasons, at least, as long as he remains healthy and playing as he has over the past few years. Webb is no more an heir to Manning than Geno Smith, who flopped with the New York Jets and is currently sitting behind Manning on the depth chart of the Giants.
Smith’s presence with the Giants could prove to be an additional positive towards Webb’s development. He not only can work with the rookie and serve as a tutor who can speak about the highs and lows that come with playing under center for an NFL franchise. He is a safety blanket who can keep Webb on the sidelines if catastrophe strikes the Giants and Manning is sidelined at any point in the foreseeable future.
McAdoo, who has worked with Aaron Rodgers and Manning during his NFL career, predictably had high praise for Webb when speaking about the draft pick to reporters on Friday evening (via Giants official website):
“Davis Webb, big man with a chip on his shoulder,” McAdoo said. “He’s a gym rat, coach’s son, excited to plug him into quarterback school and hit the ground running.
“He was the highest player on our board,” McAdoo said. “We had a high grade on him, we felt that there was good value for the pick and we’re confident that he’s going to come in and develop.”
The hope, moving forward, is that evaluations made by McAdoo and scouts are accurate, and that the 6-5 quarterback will get to work almost immediately while at the same time understanding he won’t get near the starting lineup between now and January 2019. Assuming Webb is ready to sit underneath the learning tree, he and the Giants could prove to be perfect for each other until Manning rides off into the sunset.