The New York Giants‘ road back to success could fall on the shoulders of a quarterback in the 2024 NFL draft. Holding the 6th overall pick, the Giants do have an opportunity to either trade up or pray one of the top three passers falls in their lap.
However, there is a world where the Giants end up reinforcing their wide receiver corps or adding a top offensive tackle, waiting until the second round to make a move on a signal caller.
If the Giants do decide to pivot to a developmental quarterback, they could target Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy in the second round, given he falls that far. McCarthy is 20 years old and coming off a National Championship win, but there are reasonable concerns given the offense he’s coming from and his lack of experience in a pass-happy system.
The reality is that McCarthy needs at least a year to develop his game at the NFL level, but he will need substantial reps in a pro-style offense that relies on his arm to move the football. An NFL team may not be willing to give him that much time to develop, especially for a team like the Giants would need to win games now.
The Giants Could Develop McCarthy, But They Can’t Afford to Sacrifice Their 2024 Season
Given that J.J. is only 20 years old, there is reason to believe he can continue his growth and become a competent player in the NFL, but let’s take a look at his passing metrics.
At 6’3″ and 197 pounds, McCarthy has a thin frame but good enough size to be a fine quarterback at the next level. He threw for 2,991 yards this past season, including 22 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 72.3% completion rate.
McCarthy completed 119 of 150 attempts in the short range of the field, 0–9 yards from the line of scrimmage. He attempted 46 passes 20+ yards downfield, accumulating 10 touchdowns, 706 yards, and an interception.
In comparison, Jayden Daniels of LSU completed 35 passes for 1,347 yards and 22 touchdowns with zero interceptions, earning a 99.2 PFF grade. There’s a major difference between those two players in regards to passing, but that is why McCarthy is a tier below, if not several, from a quarterbacking perspective.
Again, teams looking to draft McCarthy are betting on his upside and developmental potential, which is a gamble in the first round. He would likely need to sit for at least a year, but teams have done crazier things than utilize a bridge quarterback to continue the development of a young passer.
During the 2023 season, McCarthy only attempted more than 30 passes in a single game once, coming against Purdue in Week 10, in which he accumulated 335 yards. He went a stretch of three consecutive games without throwing a touchdown, including a performance against Penn State that included just seven completions with 60 yards passing. NFL teams will be concerned about his ability to fight from behind and operate an offense that needs to push the ball downfield to stay in games.
To finish the 2023 season, McCarthy only had one game with over 200 passing yards after Week 10, which came in the semifinals against Alabama. He tossed for 221 yards and three touchdowns, putting together his best performance in weeks.
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The Giants Should Be Concerned About Consistency
The lack of consistency is undoubtedly concerning, especially for a team like the Giants, who often have to fight from behind and put up points to stay in games. Relying on the defense to handle the load is already a problematic situation, and McCarthy will need years of experience in the NFL to find his groove and develop his processing.
Michigan played off the run game so well that it masked a lot of McCarthy‘s weaknesses. Opposing defenses had to stack the box, which ultimately opened up the passing game and gave McCarthy more opportunities to find open receivers, and while they may work at the collegiate level, that is a difficult scheme to mimic in the NFL.
Some may point to Lamar Jackson as a good comp for a run-heavy scheme being the foundation of an elite offense, but Lamar often leads the team in rushing every year, and McCarthy doesn’t have that level of athleticism.
If the Giants want to win football games and build around a young quarterback now, they’re better off trying to secure a passer in the top five, but that is easier said than done.
They will either have to give up substantial capital to move up or pray that one of them falls to the 6th overall pick, which is unlikely. The Giants have a difficult road ahead, but if they even have a chance at landing a quarterback with elite upside in the draft, they need to take it. McCarthy has good tools, but he is far from elite and will require years of development before he even cracks his potential.
General manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll need to have a good 2024 season, and betting the farm on McCarthy to develop would be an astronomical risk. They may not even be around to maximize his talent and see what he can become in the future, so it is safe to say taking an impact player now that can help them win games in the near term is preferable.