For the second consecutive season, New York Giants rookie minicamp has been overtaken by the arrival of a potential Eli Manning successor.
Last year it was third-round selection Davis Webb. This year, it’s fourth-round signalman Kyle Lauletta.
A newly minted alum of Richmond, Lauletta spoke in front of the East Rutherford press before unofficially taking the field for the first time as a Giant on Friday afternoon. Though he’s the latest candidate to be an understudy to Manning and one of the team’s newest additions, he remarked that he and his new offensive teammates are all in the same boat.
“All I can do is come in here and learn and develop as best I can,” Lauletta said about his immediate expectations. “Everybody is in the same position, trying to pick up a new offense. So like I said, just learn as best I can and just try to help that quarterback room out however I can.”
As every incoming Giants quarterback has had to do upon entry since 2004, Lauletta immediately dealt with questions about Manning, the starting quarterback for all but one game over the past 14 years.
Unlike increasingly tense situations in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, where fellow Super Bowl champions Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco respectively have been less than welcoming to their potential heirs, Lauletta immediately diffused any negativity he’s had with Manning.
“(I) just touched base with him and he just congratulated me and welcomed me to the Giants,” Lauletta said. “I haven’t really talked to him more than that, but I’m definitely looking forward to getting in a room with him and getting to rack his brain.”
After getting the Manning compliments out of the way, remarking that the Giants still belong to the two-time champion and his belief the Manning has years left, Lauletta addressed his new relationship with Webb. Competition is set to fierce, but one couldn’t tell from Lauletta’s comments, which only expressed hope for a collaborative effort.
“I don’t really see it like (a competition) and I don’t think Davis does either. Like I said, we’re all in this together, we’re all in the same boat learning a new offense so we’ll definitely be close and be friends and help each other out as best as we can,” he said.
“(We’re just going to) try to help each other grow and try to develop so as far as who’s the back-up and stuff of course both of us are going to compete and both of us are going to try to earn that spot, but that’s so far ahead in the future I just don’t think it’s worth even thinking about right now.”
While mid- and late-round quarterbacks don’t always pan out, the names that do are easily worth it. Tom Brady’s rise from the sixth round is a tale as old as time, while no one saw Russell Wilson going from the third round to starterhood in the span of months. Lauletta, who was reportedly a target to be Brady’s heir in New England, isn’t looking to be another Brady or Wilson, however.
“Of course, there has been a lot of late round picks that have been successful in all positions,” he said. “That’s the thing, you just don’t know how guys are going to pan out at the next level. For me, I just put all of that college stuff behind me and just open the next chapter. It’s just hitting the reset button and getting back to work and just got to come in every day, put your head down and do everything you can to be the best player that you can be and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Hitting the reset button will be a bit difficult for Lauletta, who, despite relative anonymity with Football Championship Subdivision Spiders, made a name for himself with impressive numbers.
He officially invited himself to the NFL conversation with an eye-popping Senior Bowl appearance. Against elite competition from power programs, Lauletta outshined first round contemporaries Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, going 8-for-12 for 198 yards, with two passes going for scores. Lauletta earned MVP honors as his South squad rolled to a 45-16 victory over the North.
Though several other quarterbacks will join him this weekend, head coach and noted quarterback guru Pat Shurmur acknowledged that Lauletta will bear the most responsibility this weekend. After a morning walkthrough, Shurmur believes his faith is well placed.
“He’s in charge of everything and so certainly there is more on his plate,” Shurmur said. “But from what I could tell by just watching him function in the walk through, I think he’s got a good feel for what he’s going to need to do (this weekend).”
Lauletta isn’t concerned about the instant pressure, as he acknowledged that the quarterback is under pressure no matter the team, no matter the week.
“I think that’s the nature of the position,” Lauletta said, brushing off the idea of increased tension. “The quarterback has to be the leader of the group and he has to be intelligent, he has to know the offense and be able to help guys get lined up and that sort of thing. So just going through the playbook and trying to learn it as best I can right now.”