Could the Giants land their next quarterback in the 2nd round of the draft?

Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) (New York Giants draft prospect) passes in the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Picking sixth in the 2024 NFL Draft order, the New York Giants might be out of range for the class’ top quarterback prospects. The Giants could consequentially pivot toward targeting some of the draft’s top playmakers with their first-round pick.

Drafting an elite wide receiver or tight end would not solve the Giants’ long-term uncertainty at the quarterback position. However, there could be an avenue for New York to land an offensive weapon in the first round and still find their next quarterback in Round 2.

Could the Giants land their next quarterback in Round 2 of the draft?

The consensus top three quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class are USC’s Caleb Williams, UNC’s Drake Maye, and LSU’s Jayden Daniels. There is a good chance that all three of these signal-callers get selected inside the top 10, potentially all going inside the top five picks. In that scenario, Big Blue would miss out, then pivot to draft a weapon on offense.

The next three quarterbacks to go off the board will likely be Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., and Oregon’s Bo Nix. While any of these three prospects could go in Round 1, there is also a chance they slide into the second round. If that is the case, the Giants could wind up with both a top playmaker and a top quarterback prospect.

Mock Draft Scenario No. 1: The Giants land J.J. McCarthy in Round 2

McCarthy is coming off a National Championship victory with the Michigan Wolverines and has declared for the draft as one of the class’s most polarizing prospects. On one hand, he’s a 20-year-old quarterback and champion with a strong arm who played in a pro-style offensive system for a renowned head coach. On the other, he’s a raw prospect who was often asked to serve as a game-manager for a Michigan offense that possessed a dominant rushing attack.

Some teams will view McCarthy as a first-round prospect, others will not. If he slides into the second round, though, he will not last long on day two before a team scoops him up as a developmental franchise quarterback. McCarthy (6-foot-3, 197 pounds) threw for 2,991 yards and 22 touchdowns with only four interceptions and an additional 202 yards and three touchdowns rushing in 2023.

In this mock draft, the Giants land LSU WR Malik Nabers, a consensus top-three skill position player in the class, then pair him with McCarthy to hopefully form a QB-WR duo that will lead the franchise to excellence for the next decade. Of course, that success hinges on McCarthy’s ability to pan out as a franchise quarterback. But if he does, this second-round pick will look like an absolute steal for Big Blue.

Mock Draft Scenario No. 2: Attempting to craft an elite QB-TE duo

The historic success of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce has football fans pondering what is more important: an elite wide receiver or an elite tight end? No duo in NFL history has connected for more postseason touchdowns than Mahomes to Kelce. This prolific pairing might entice NFL teams to prioritize an elite tight end prospect like Georgia’s Brock Bowers over some of the class’s wide receivers this spring.

Bowers has been described by Pro Football Focus as “the greatest tight end to ever play college football.” The Giants are considered to be a top fit for the Bulldogs tight end who totaled 56 receptions for 714 receiving yards and six touchdowns in only 10 games this season.

If the Giants want to go the Mahomes-Kelce route, they could take Bowers at six and then target a quarterback in the second round, like Oregon’s Bo Nix. Like McCarthy, Nix is another prospect who could go in the first round but could also possibly slip into day two.

Nix had a sixth-year breakout this season, tossing 45 touchdowns to only three interceptions with 4,508 yards in 14 games for Oregon this season. Nix is another polarizing prospect. Many consider his sixth-year breakout to be a red flag for slow development. Others consider him an experienced and polished passer who could find success at the next level. The Giants could view him as the latter and pair him with Bowers in April.

Mock Draft Scenario No. 3: Reuniting an elite QB-WR pairing

Rome Odunze and Michael Penix Jr. were arguably the best QB-WR duo in college football this season. Odunze was a Biletnikoff Award finalist after hauling in 92 receptions for 1,640 and 13 touchdowns this season. Penix was a Heisman Trophy finalist after throwing for 4,903 yards and 36 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in 2023.

Odunze and Penix are both coming off of elite campaigns that culminated in a National Championship Game appearance for the Washington Huskies. The duo ultimately lost to McCarthy’s Wolverines, but the proficiency of Washington’s duo cannot be overlooked.

Penix could wind up being drafted in the first round, but his medical history might be a red flag that causes him to fall to the second round or even later. Odunze, on the other hand, is a first-round lock as one of the best wide receiver prospects in this draft class.

In this mock draft, the Giants reunite this elite duo in the Big Apple, drafting Odunze in the first round and giving him continuity at quarterback with Penix in the second round.

If the Giants were to draft Penix, though, they would need to fortify the right side of their offensive line. As a left-handed quarterback, Penix would be vulnerable to blindside hits with the struggling Evan Neal still penciled in as the team’s right tackle. Drafting an offensive tackle prospect like Duke’s Graham Barton or signing a right tackle in free agency would become a complete necessity to protect Penix.

Giants could add an elite playmaker and take a chance on a franchise QB in the draft

Perhaps the Giants could kill two birds with one stone in April. Drafting a top quarterback prospect will be the dream for fans and likely the hope for general manager Joe Schoen. But ultimately, picking sixth overall, the top three quarterback prospects are likely out of reach for New York barring any blockbuster trade-up scenarios.

The Giants might have to settle for a second-round quarterback to develop into their franchise guy, similar to what the Philadelphia Eagles did with Jalen Hurts back in 2020. While this strategy can be hit-or-miss, the Giants could bank on Brian Daboll’s ability to develop young quarterbacks and hope to land a prospect with a high ceiling in the second round.

Meanwhile, the first round will afford Big Blue a slew of skill position players to consider on the offensive side of the ball. A playmaker in round one might be the best bet for a team picking outside the top five. But if the Giants are set on drafting a quarterback in April, they may want to take a closer look at some of these second-round hopefuls.

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