By Steve Silverman
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Here’s the truth for the New York Giants.
Ben McAdoo came to the accurate conclusion when he decided that Eli Manning was getting close to the end of the line and that the Giants need a new quarterback.
The reason McAdoo was fired was that he did not have the gravitas to pull that move off, and he did it in a way that was insulting to the two-time Super Bowl winner who has meant so much to the franchise.
Manning’s big problem is his inability to handle a pass rush at this point of his career. He does not have the wherewithal to survive a heavy rush, as he lacks the strength to get away when a defensive lineman or linebacker gets his hands on him. And he can no longer slide in the pocket to avoid those pass rushers.
Manning also looks like he might break at this point after absorbing solid contact. That’s not a whole lot different than it’s been throughout the majority of his career, but that conclusion may be closer to reality than it was five years ago.
Manning should have enough left to hold onto his position for one more season while the Giants train a new man to handle the job. Since they have the No. 2 pick, they are in a wonderful position to find their quarterback of the future.
This will likely be general manager Dave Gettleman’s signature draft choice. And while he is brand new to his position, it could very well be a make-or-break move, along with finding a competent head coach.
There are five quarterbacks who could go in the first round. Here’s how I assess them.
1. Josh Rosen, UCLA
The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Rosen is a natural for the position and appears to be the best choice for the Giants.
He completed 283 of 452 passes (62.6 percent) for 3,756 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for an ordinary UCLA team. He has brilliant footwork, an excellent throwing motion, wonderful accuracy and the ability to command the huddle.
Rosen appears to be a natural for the position, and while that indicates he could step in right away, he is smart enough to absorb quite a few lessons while he observes Manning for at least half a season. He appears to be the best quarterback in this draft, and perhaps by a significant margin.
2. Josh Allen, Wyoming
At 6-5, 233 pounds, Allen has the kind of frame that will allow him to absorb contact, stay upright and go on to make a big play.
Allen has a magnificent arm and can sling the ball all over the field with velocity. He can also put great touch on the ball when needed.
Allen’s numbers at Wyoming were not elite, but he did not have great talent surrounding him. He threw for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2016, and 1,812 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions this season.
I’m not saying to forget about the numbers, but Allen has the arm strength, size and moxie to succeed at the next level.
3. Sam Darnold, USC
Darnold was one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy at the start of the season, and he also looked like a potential No. 1 overall draft choice.
He didn’t contend for the Heisman, but there appears to be an excellent chance he could still go to the Cleveland Browns with the top overall pick.
At 6-4, 225 pounds, Darnold has the size you want, and his numbers were fairly impressive. He completed 303 of 480 passes (63.1 percent) for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also ran for five touchdowns.
The USC quarterback has some mechanical issues, and his passing motion can get a bit long. That’s a problem that he will have to overcome before he becomes a top-notch NFL quarterback.
4. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is not thought of as an elite pro prospect like Rosen and Darnold are, but don’t sell Jackson short as an NFL leader.
He is a brilliant athlete who runs nearly as well as Cam Newton, but he tends to play with more consistency than the Panthers’ quarterback. He has some issues with his accuracy, but he is able to make quick adjustments as a play develops, making him a potentially dangerous QB.
Jackson completed 254 of 430 passes (59.1 percent) for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and he also ran for 18 TDs.
Jackson is not going to be able to run in the NFL the way he did in college, and it may be difficult to disabuse him of that notion. He will get hurt if he tries to run with abandon at the next level.
There are some reports that he could switch positions and become a wide receiver at the next level, but don’t give them any countenance.
5. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
He may have brilliant numbers — 70.5 completion percentage, 4,627 passing yards, 43 TDs and six interceptions — but I’m quite leery when it comes to Mayfield’s NFL future.
He appears shorter than the 6-1 he is listed at, and he may have a hard time getting his passes over the line of scrimmage.
Many of his numbers were accumulated as a result of short passes and quick flips that his receivers were able to turn into big plays. He did not face impressive defenses in the Big 12. That will obviously change.
Mayfield appears to be no better than a decent NFL backup. He does not have the stature, passing motion or leadership skills to be a top starter who can lead his team to the playoffs.
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