Dave Gettleman fired Marc Ross shortly after he took over as Giants GM, but the longtime Big Blue VP of player evaluation may have shed some light as to which players previous Giants scouts were high on and whom the franchise could target with its No. 2 pick. Of the quarterbacks, Ross singled out Sam Darnold during an appearance on NFL Live (via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com). He identified Saquon Barkley as well and even pointed to Notre Dame guard phenom Quenton Nelson.
“You have to look at a quarterback, ut it has to be the right guy. You can’t just force a guy,” said Ross, who interviewed to be the Giants’ GM in December. “The right guy for them, on and off the field, I would think would be Sam Darnold. He’s ultra-talented, he’s a playmaker, he’s a winner. And he’s also very clean off the field. What I mean by that: no issues, great leader, great teammate, great person.”
Darnold would have a chance to develop while Eli Manning — whom the current regime immediately took off the trade market, judging by everything that’s been said thus far this offseason. Ross’ stance on Nelson mostly comes from Gettleman’s comments regarding the franchise being desperate for offensive line upgrades, and it would be unusual for a guard to go this high. But he did seem to echo a theme he’d heard while in his previous post with the Giants.
“All the years of talking about, ‘The Giants need O-line; the Giants need O-line,’” Ross said, “they may even go that route.”
Here’s more Giants news prior to the team’s trip to Indianapolis.
- Weston Richburg will likely leave as a free agent, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes, but the Giants will probably gauge his price at the Combine. Raanan reports multiple teams view the longtime Giants center as a quality starter despite the concussion that cost Richburg 12 games last season. A 2014 second-round pick, Richburg performed better in 2015 and ’16.
- The Giants will also likely examine Justin Pugh‘s interest in coming back at the Combine, Vacchiano writes. Pugh’s 2017 injury-marred season will not deter the Giants from re-signing him, Raanan reports. A back injury cost Pugh eight games last season, but it looks like the 2013 first-rounder will be a higher priority to retain than Richburg. Pugh did not undergo surgery and said he would like to be back with the Giants next season. It won’t be cheap, however, and Raanan listed the Jaguars — who have Pugh’s college coach (Doug Marrone) and former NFL coach (Tom Coughlin) as key organizational pillars — as an obvious fit if the guard/tackle leaves the Big Apple.
- Ross is high on Baker Mayfield but doesn’t see an obvious fit in New York. The Giants had a meeting scheduled with Mayfield at the Senior Bowl that didn’t end up taking place, and the Heisman Trophy winner has said a job learning behind Manning would be ideal for him.
- Orleans Darkwa could be a candidate to return on a low-cost deal, Raanan and Vacchiano note. Raanan expects the running back to have suitors on the market. New York will probably be looking to upgrade at running back after struggling on the ground again last season, but Darkwa would make sense as a complementary back. He led the Giants with 751 rushing yards last season and averaged 4.4 per carry.
- While technically forbidden because of tampering, Vacchiano notes the Giants will “absolutely” know where they stand with UFA guard Andrew Norwell. The former Gettleman UDFA find with the Panthers has been linked to the Giants, but considering the issues teams have had finding and developing linemen this decade, Norwell could potentially eclipse Kevin Zeitler‘s record guard deal come March.