If you listen closely, you can hear Giants veteran quarterback Eli Manning biting his nails. The G-men showed up in Philly for the 2017 NFL Draft with a clear agenda: Make 2017 a put up or shut up season for Manning. As a two-time Super Bowl champion, and two-time Super Bowl MVP, the 36-year-old Manning’s leash is a lot longer than most. Nonetheless, after a lackluster showing in 2016, each set of eyes in the Giants front office will be fixed on number 10.
In a rare turn of events, the Giants used their first round selection in this years’ draft to address a clear position of need. Between Will Tye, Larry Donnell, and Jerell Adams, Big Blue got next to nothing out of their tight ends in 2016. First-year head coach Ben McAdoo made it clear that the offense would rely heavily on the passing game, but the trio of tight ends were able to muster just 602 yards and three TDs COMBINED in his first season in charge. With the 2017 class of tight ends being touted as one of the best in decades, the Giants jumped onto the bandwagon, scooping up Evan Engram with the 23rd pick.
Engram comes out of Manning’s alma mater, Ole Miss, and is a freakish athlete to say the least. The number that jumps off the charts initially is his 4.42 40-yard dash time, all while standing at 6’3″ and weighing 234 pounds. Just as a reference point, Odell Beckham Jr., one of the best wide receivers in the NFL today, ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at his combine. Factor in that speed, combined with a 36-inch vertical, and Engram is the type of guy that can make jaws drop on a weekly basis.
The question with Engram will be his blocking. With his size and speed, many see him as more of a receiver than a tight end, and he’ll have to mold into a productive blocker at the professional level. Don’t forget, the Giants paid big money to bring in Rhett Ellison, a guy who no matter where he lines up is putting people on their rear ends routinely. Engram adds to an already stacked armory of weapons at Manning’s disposal. Don’t forget about the Giants’ move to bring in some dude named Brandon Marshall, who’s apparently pretty damn good.
Rejoice Giants fans, for Ryan Nassib will no longer be Manning’s backup, and Geno Smith won’t be for long! Now there’s no guaranteeing that the Giants won’t head into week one with Smith listed as the backup, but the future of the position is in good hands with Davis Webb. Webb, who the Giants grabbed in the third round, is an experienced senior quarterback that has the raw talent to make any throw. He’s a big dude (6’5″, 232 lbs), and has loads of arm strength, a trait that is seemingly waining for Manning.
One key thing to remember is that Webb has already been through learning a completely new offense. After spending his first three seasons at Texas Tech, Webb transferred to California, putting up career-best numbers as a senior and a Golden Bear. Now a college offense is nothing like the NFL, but in Webb, the Giants bring in a quarterback who’s been through change, and will be ready to learn from day one.
On paper, the Giants offense looks primed to be nearly impossible to stop through the air in 2017. But will that actually be the case? Just months after much of the organization didn’t hesitate to acknowledge his struggles in 2016, Eli Manning has now been put under more pressure than ever. How he responds to this pressure will determine just how much longer he’ll be taking snaps in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated (si.com)