Mike Mayock: Lack of Blue-chip QB Prospects Shouldn’t Discourage Teams from Taking Chances

Will this be the year the Giants find QB Eli Manning’s successor?

The New York Giants are hoping that they won’t have to worry about their starting quarterback for at least another three years, that being when 36-year-old current starter Eli Manning’s  contract is set to expire.

In the meantime, though, it’s widely believed that the Giants will be on the hunt for a young developmental prospect whom they can grow organically in their offensive system and groom to ultimately take over the reigns when Manning, their only starting quarterback since midway through the 2004 season, and the team part.

The problem is that this year’s quarterback draft class is said to lack blue-chip prospects, a factor that might be creating pause for some teams looking to add a quarterback to their foundation.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock believes that a team looking to add a gunslinger need not be afraid of the challenge of developing prospects who right now might have some rough edges to their game but who otherwise have talent.

“I think there are a bunch of teams around the league saying: ‘Who is next? And when do you pull the trigger and how high do you pull the trigger?’” Mayock said during a national conference call with reporters Monday.

“I think Brad Kaaya from Miami and Josh Dobbs from Tennessee are the two quarterbacks I would classify as having some talent, but kind of long-range, developmental prospects. But they have talent. So if you took a guy like that in the third round, for instance, and tried to develop him, I think that would be a pretty good plan.

“Another person I’d throw in there who is probably a third-round pick is Davis Webb from Cal, transfer from Texas Tech who was the MVP of the Senior Bowl. Played in the same Cal offense that Jared Goff did. He’s very much a spread guy. He’s not ready to play, but he’s a big guy. He’s got a live arm. He’s got good enough feet. He’s another guy I would really like to develop.”

Mayock also believes there is another prospect whose stock has been quietly rising among the NFL talent evaluators.

“There is a lot of conversation with Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech,” he said. “He’s different. He’s a gunslinger. He’s got an innate feel for the game. The more I look at him, the more I’m pushing him higher and closer to that first-round conversation with (DeShone) Kizer, (DeShaun) Watson, and (Mitch) Trubisky. So I think Mahomes is picking up steam in NFL circles.”

The Giants are unlikely to spend a first, or even a second round pick on a quarterback this year, not if an offensive tackle and tight end are there in those rounds.

The good news is they might be able to wait until the third round to make a move if a quarterback is indeed on their radar.

“I think you could get Webb perhaps in the third round, and then I think Kaaya and Dobbs are the guys as far as developmental guys if you’re not going to try to trade for a quarterback,” Mayock said.

Mayock pointed out that over the last 10 years, there have been 26 first-round quarterbacks drafted, with some working out for their teams and others fizzling out.

“I’m going to discount the last two years just because it’s not fair to grade those kids yet,” he said. “But if you look at the last eight years beyond that — in other words, ’07 through ’14, there have been 21 first-round quarterbacks. Out of that group, there are either four or five franchise quarterbacks. There’s Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and if you want to put Joe Flacco in there.

“After that, there are nine first-round kids not even in the league anymore. Then, as far as starting quarterbacks go, you’ve got (Blake) Bortles, (Ryan) Tannehill, (Sam) Bradford, and Flacco. again, depending on what category you want Flacco in. Then there are four back-ups, or Teddy Bridgewater, who has been hurt, EJ Manuel, RG3, and (Mark) Sanchez. So it gives you a pretty good feel for the hit rate of franchise quarterbacks in the first round.”

Mayock then pointed out that guys like Oakland’s Derek Carr, New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Washington’s Kirk Cousins and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton are all good examples of starters who weren’t first-round picks.

His message to teams who need a quarterback? If at first your don’t succeed, don’t be afraid to try again.

“You’ve got to keep trying. You’ve got to keep swinging,” Mayock said. “Like (Seattle head coach) Pete Carroll and (general manager) John Schneider did, they signed (Matt) Flynn to the big free agent contract, and they still that same year went out and drafted Russell Wilson in the third. And by the way, they have been doing that for several years, kind of looking for a quarterback.”

That philososphy appears to align with Giants head coach Ben McAdoo’s thinking. McAdoo, who spent the bulk of his NFL coaching career with Green Bay, was part of a staff that wasn’t afraid to roll the dice on developing young quarterbacks.

In 2016, the Giants carried three quarterbacks on their roster–Manning, Ryan Nassib and Josh Johnson–as per that philosophy.