The biggest knock on Dave Gettleman’s first draft as general manager of the New York Giants was that he bypassed on a possible franchise quarterback with the second overall pick in favor of Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. It doesn’t matter that Barkley was rated the top player in the draft by just about every mocker and scout in the land, the value at No. 2 usually never goes to a running back in today’s NFL. You are supposed to do one of four things: take a QB, a offensive tackle, a pass rusher or trade out.
Gettleman couldn’t pass on Barkley, though.Obviously the 67 year-old football lifer wants to win now, and he thinks he can with Eli Manning at QB even though Manning’s performance has been below par the past few seasons.
What critics are forgetting is that Gettleman DID take a QB in this draft. In Round Four, he selected Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, a player that many teams – including Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots – had interest in but were waiting for the right time to pull the trigger. Gettleman just beat them all to it.
“He was just too good of a value to pass up there,” said Gettleman. “He’s got all the stuff – he’s tough, he’s not shy in the pocket, he’s got pocket presence, patience and feel, which, again, those are instinctive things that you can’t teach. He throws a really nice ball, he’s accurate, he’s got a sense of anticipation and timing and the other part is he’s a runner. He’s got legitimate escape dimensions and we’re really pleased about that. He was just too good of a value there for us. We’re really thrilled to get him there. I really expected him to be long gone.”
Now Lauletta doesn’t have the arm strength of some of the other QBs taken in front of him, and playing at a smaller program kept him out of the mainstream. While most of the football-watching public were hot for the Giants to take a Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, Gettleman and his new head coach, QB whisperer Pat Shurmur, had their eye on Lauletta.
“We want to develop a good and a solid quarterback culture here. This is a guy that’s a winner,” said Shurmur. “I think there are people that say he doesn’t have enough arm strength. I disagree. I think he’s got all the traits, all the things you’re looking for in a quarterback – he’s tall enough, he’s got good mobility and really arm strength is about fourth on the list. You have to be a good decision-maker, you have to have a sense of timing and you have to throw an accurate ball, which he does. He does all those three things well and he uses his feet to get the ball where he needs to get it and that’s really what I was impressed by – he’s got a good set of legs, he’s tall enough, he’s a winner, he’s got moxie, he’s very competitive and so we’re glad to add him to the group and he’s one of those guys that’s going to come in and compete and be as good as he can be. If at some point he is not the starter, then he is going to do what he can to help the starter be good and that’s what I’m talking about when I say we want a great quarterback room. I’m really thrilled that we could bring him in and try to develop him and see how good he can be.”
The website Pro Football Focus thinks the Giants got one of the biggest steals in the draft in Lauletta. Here’s what they had to say about the pick:
Our seventh-ranked quarterback in the draft class, Lauletta operates as a quick decision-maker with an equally quick setup and release from under center. He compiled a strong 2017 season (87.9 overall grade) with an outstanding performance at the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl, as he posted the top grade in 1-on-1 drills and graded well in both team drills and the game itself. His downfield accuracy will need work at the next level, but his already strong short and intermediate accuracy help establish his high floor at the next level…Lauletta will benefit from a proverbial redshirt year (or two) behind Manning in East Rutherford, and, in turn, New York will have a better understanding of what life’s like with Manning’s cleats on the rack.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com offered this scouting report on the newest Giant QB:
- Heralded by scouts as team leader and elected team captain twice
- Production saw major spike over the last two seasons
- Uses eyes to move linebackers out of his passing lanes on slants and curls
- Won’t automatically dump throws down to backs
- Willing to let route combinations progress while climbing and sliding away from heat
- Has experience from shotgun, pistol and under center
- Footwork is smooth in play-action and setup
- Comfortable throwing on the move
- Gets it out early on timing throws
- Spins a tight spiral
- Able to throw accurately to intermediate targets on the move
No matter which QB they chose, that kid was going to have to sit behind Manning and Davis Webb for at least a year, maybe two. Why not take a kid like Lauletta, who can develop behind Eli under the watchful eye of Shurmur?
Lauletta was the MVP of the Senior Bowl and that’s where scouts began to elevate their opinion of him, spiking his stock price. Below are the highlights from that game.
So, next time someone bitches about the Giants passing on a QB, tell them they didn’t. They got both the players they wanted PLUS the QB they wanted.