Giants coach Pat Shurmur (left), first-round draft pick Saquon Barkley (center) and general manager Dave Gettleman pose for a photo during a news conference on April 28, 2018, at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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Palladino: Maccagnan, Gettleman Drafted Well Under Different Philosophies

Jets Staying Patient While Giants Aim To Win Now

Ernie Palladino
April 30, 2018 - 9:38 am
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If there was any question about the Jets’ and Giants’ approach to the 2018 season, they made things quite clear over the weekend.

The Jets are taking it slow, hoping for long-term gain after a period of development. In other words, more waiting on the part of their fans, but hopefully with a big quarterback prize in Sam Darnold and a sturdy piece on the defensive front in third-round defensive end Nathan Shepherd.

MORE: Dave Gettleman 'Thrilled' With How Draft Unfolded For Giants

The Giants? Win now, baby! After following a pair of 6-10 seasons with an 11-5 rise in 2016 and abrupt fall to 3-13 last season, the fans are arguably as hungry as the Jets for a winning season. New coach Pat Shurmur has committed himself to quarterback Eli Manning for the next year or, possibly, two. That’s why they picked a transformational, can’t-miss running back in Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall and then followed up with a big, physical guard in Will Hernandez in the second round.

Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan may, in the short run, tick off a few of the green-clad faithful when they see Josh McCown under center in the opener. And certainly the crowd will repeat Darnold’s name at various times during the season if coach Todd Bowles believes the smart 20-year-old could use a whole season of learning time carrying McCown’s clipboard.

 Sam Darnold poses for a photo at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey, on April 27, 2018.
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But Maccagnan has done exactly the right thing. At this point in Jets history, slow and steady wins the race. And in Darnold, he plucked himself the kid who has every chance in the world of becoming the franchise quarterback the Jets have coveted for so long.

This draft will be remembered, positively or negatively, for that one pick alone. It may take a season, it may take a half a season. But the bet here is that Darnold becomes that great quarterback because of his cool, all-business disposition and throwing ability.

MORE: Sam Darnold On WFAN: Mark Sanchez Reached Out On ‘What To Expect’

Lucky for Maccagnan that the Browns took the Baker Mayfield temptation off the table at No. 1 overall.

The thing is, none of his picks are plug-and-play guys, at least not at this moment. Even fourth-rounder Christopher Herndon can’t be counted as a Day 1 starter, despite filling a need at tight end, due to a torn MCL.

Shepherd, out of Division II Fort Hays State, is small school all the way. He’ll eventually add pass rush ability playing next to Leonard Williams, and there’s nothing to dislike about his 315-pound frame. But, at an advanced age of 24, he’ll need plenty of hard, fast coaching before he’s ready for extended action.

Giants GM Dave Gettleman went diametrically the other way. Already convinced that Manning still has at least a season of high-level life left, he grabbed two guys who can start immediately. MetLife Stadium fans are going to love Barkley, the Penn State wonder who runs as if produced by a mythical union of bull and gazelle, blocks willingly and catches passes. Gettleman wasted no time in putting pressure on the young man, either, proclaiming Barkley has been “touched by the hand of God.”

MORE: Boomer & Gio: Gettleman Talks Saquon Barkley, Eli Manning, Ereck Flowers

That’s more than an endorsement. It’s a challenge for Barkley to live up to his college highlights.

If he does, a running game the Giants haven’t seen since Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw left town will automatically ignite. That will make throwing to Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram all the easier. And that should effect a return to the 26-plus-points-per-game efficiency that marked the 2015 season.

Barkley won’t have to do it alone. Gettleman made a wise move in drafting the 327-pound Hernandez out of UTEP in the second round. With free agent Nate Solder at left tackle, free agent guard Patrick Omameh next to him and the nasty Hernandez at right guard from Day 1, the Giants put themselves well into an offensive front rebuild that will help not only Barkley, but give Manning time to find his dynamic receivers.

The Giants needed a couple of immediate contributors out of this draft, and Gettleman jumped on them.

MORE: Keidel: Jets Could Be Turning The Tide With Sam Darnold Pick

Maccagnan needed to look to the future in the early rounds. Mission accomplished.

Over time, Maccagnan’s way may yield the long-term dividends.

Gettleman’s philosophy may pay off as early as the upcoming season.

As things stand now, though, it’s hard to argue with either draft.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino