Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins

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NFL Draft Preview: Murray, Haskins Lead Thin QB Class

Matt Citak
April 04, 2019 - 1:18 pm
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The NFL draft begins in three weeks down in Nashville, Tennessee. Leading up to the start of the first round, I will be breaking down the top prospects at each position, and whether or not the Giants or Jets may have interest.

First up are the quarterbacks.

Both local teams wound up with top-three picks last year, yet only one walked away with a franchise quarterback. The Giants owned the second pick, but instead of taking Eli Manning’s future replacement, general manager Dave Gettleman selected running back Saquon Barkley. While the former Penn State star stepped in and immediately established himself as one of the best backs in the NFL, Big Blue passed on a golden opportunity to find their next QB.

After trading up from the sixth pick to third overall, the Jets made sure to capitalize and walked away with Sam Darnold. Although he did not perform as well as the Browns' Baker Mayfield, the first quarterback taken, Darnold did enough to leave the Jets and their fans encouraged by his potential.

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The Jets are obviously set at quarterback. The Giants are still in search of Manning's successor, and while they are in a great position to find one (for the second year in a row), there is no guarantee that Gettleman will pull the trigger on one of this year’s signal callers.

In case he does, here are this year’s top quarterbacks.

Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

After surprising many by measuring in at 5-foot-10 at the combine, Murray is now the favorite to go first overall. In his one season starting at QB for Oklahoma, Murray completed 69% of his passes for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. The 21-year-old added 140 rushes for 1,001 yards (7.2 yards per carry) and 12 rushing scores and walked away with the Heisman Trophy.

Murray is an incredibly accurate passer with a quality arm and has shown that he has a special type of athleticism, one with an elite ability to extend and make plays happen with his legs. His size will scare some teams away, but with the potential to be a Russell Wilson-type QB, Murray is all but certain to be selected somewhere in the top five.

Murray is far from the prototypical QB that Gettleman looks for, making the Giants an unlikely destination for him. But if he somehow drops and is still available at No. 6, I wouldn’t put it past the veteran GM to surprise us all by taking Murray.

Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Similar to Murray, Haskins has just one year of starting experience under his belt. And also similar to Murray, Haskins absolutely dominated in his limited action. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound QB threw for 4,831 yards, 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions with a completion percentage of 70 in his 14 games as Ohio State’s starting quarterback. He the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record and a victory in the Rose Bowl.

Haskins has an incredibly strong arm that he showed off in his impressive performance at Ohio State’s pro day. The soon-to-be 22-year-old profiles as a traditional pocket passer in the NFL but will have to improve on his footwork in order to establish himself as a starting quarterback at the next level. Haskins must also refine his ability to work through progressions faster, but these things should come with more experience on the field. It’s unlikely he falls out of the top 10, but if he does, Haskins shouldn’t make it past Cincinnati at No. 11 or Miami at No. 13.

Of all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft, Haskins is definitely the favorite to hear his name called by the Giants at No. 6. The former Ohio State QB grew up a Giants fan in New Jersey and would certainly benefit from learning under Manning for a year, something that he has already stated he would be more than open to. If Gettleman decides to take a QB in this year’s draft, signs point toward Haskins being the guy.

Drew Lock, Missouri

Lock has a rifle of an arm -- likely the strongest among this year's top prospects -- and profiles as your prototypical gunslinger-style NFL QB. He competed 62.9% of his passes for 3,498 yards, 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions this past season, adding six rushing touchdowns. But it was his 2017 season that truly put Lock on NFL radars, as he threw for just under 4,000 yards with 44 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Drew Lock
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While Murray and Haskins both find themselves at the top of this year’s QB class after starting only one year in college, Lock falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. The 6-foot-4 quarterback started over 3½ seasons at Missouri and has the advantage of having a ton of experience going up against strong, SEC defenses. Lock has drawn many comparisons to Jay Cutler in terms of his athleticism and skill set, and while he won’t be the type of vocal leader to take over a locker room, he does not lack confidence.

Even if Murray and Haskins are both gone, Lock should not be in the discussion for the Giants at No. 6. The value of pass rushers there would likely be too high to pass up for the Missouri QB. But if he falls to No. 17, or if Big Blue decides to trade up a few picks with their second first-round pick, Lock could end up being Manning’s replacement, although I do think it is unlikely.

Daniel Jones, Duke

Jones rounds out the list of this year's quarterbacks with first-round potential. In 11 games for Duke in 2018, Jones completed 60.5% of his passes while amassing 2,674 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In his three seasons starting for Duke, the 6-foot-5 quarterback passed for at least 2,670 yards while running for at least 315 yards and three touchdowns every year.

Jones is an accurate passer with a strong arm, evidenced by his solid performance at the 2019 Senior Bowl. He has proven to have a good pocket presence, keeping his feet moving and eyes downfield even with pressure mounting around him. He needs to work on getting the ball out of his hands quicker, but Jones has a high football IQ, which should help him in the NFL.

The former Duke quarterback is a popular pick in mock drafts for the Giants at No. 17 due to his college head coach. David Cutcliffe helped groom both Peyton and Eli Manning when they were playing college ball, which has led many to think that Gettleman could be targeting Jones with the No. 17 pick. While this is certainly possible, I believe the Giants would much rather find their franchise QB with the No. 6 pick.

Ryan Finley, North Carolina State

We have now entered Day 2 territory in this year’s QB class. Finley was a solid starting quarterback while at N.C. State. In his three years there, the 6-foot-4 signal caller saw his completion percentage and passing yards increase each season. In 13 games in 2018, Finley threw for 3,928 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions to go with a completion percentage of 67.4%.

Ryan Finley
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Finley has an accurate arm, and while he lacks in flashiness, he does do a good job of protecting the football (25 interceptions in 39 career games for the Wolfpack). Finley will likely be one of the top quarterbacks taken in the second round, but don’t expect it to be by the Giants. Gettleman has made it clear that if he takes a QB this year, it will be in the first round.

Will Grier, West Virginia

While Grier put together two consecutive strong campaigns at West Virginia, he is seen as, at best, a second-round pick, and at worst, a mid-round pick. This past season, the 6-foot-2 Grier threw for 3,864 yards with a 67% completion percentage, along with 37 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Grier has just average arm strength, which was put on full display at the Senior Bowl.

Grier can certainly put together a long NFL career, but most likely it will be as a backup quarterback. The Giants need a franchise QB, not someone who can hold a clipboard.

Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

Thorson started 53 straight games at Northwestern, the most in Big Ten history. That amount of experience and time to develop is not too common in today’s college football. In 14 games during his senior year, the 6-foot-4 QB completed 61.1% of his passes for 3,183 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions to go along with nine rushing touchdowns. His ball placement is solid, along with his throwing mechanics, which should be good enough for him to hear his name called at some point during Day 2.

Although he has shown flashes of excellence, it is unlikely Gettleman wastes a Day 2 pick on a QB project such as Thorson.

Jason Stidham, Auburn

Stidham played well in his two years at Auburn, but saw his numbers take a dip from his sophomore to junior seasons. Measuring in at 6-foot-3, Stidham threw for just 2,794 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in 13 games. He has a high football IQ with a good arm and good mechanics but is unlikely to be drafted before the end of Day 2. It is hard to see the Giants using another mid-round pick on a QB after taking Kyle Lauletta in the fourth-round last year unless they decide to move on from Lauletta.

Tyree Jackson, Buffalo

Of all the mid-round quarterbacks, Jackson interests me the most. Standing in at a massive 6-foot-7, 245-pounds, he has great size and arm strength with amazing athleticism, as we saw with his 4.59 40-yard dash at Buffalo’s pro day. His rocket of an arm makes him an intriguing prospect for a team willing to put in the work to develop him. His accuracy is wildly inconsistent, which is the biggest aspect of his game that he must work on. But after seeing Josh Allen go in the top 10 of last year’s draft, and with the two quarterbacks sharing a lot of similarities, there is a lot to like about the large quarterback. The only way I could see the Giants being interested in Jackson is if they cut Lauletta and punt the franchise QB search until next offseason, which would allow them to roll the dice with one of their many Day 3 picks on the QB out of Buffalo.

Tyree Jackson
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Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt

Rounding out the list is Giants coach Pat Shurmur’s son, Kyle. Playing for the worst team in the SEC (and my alma mater), Shurmur has flown under the radar while at Vanderbilt. But in 13 games during his senior season, the 6-foot-4 QB completed 62.6% of his passes for 3,130 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. Vanderbilt may struggle in conference play, but keep in mind Shurmur went up against tough SEC opponents over the last few years. He is a smart signal caller that has shown improved accuracy with the more experience he’s gotten and is likely to hear his name called during day 3.

As much as I would love to see father and son reunite on the Giants’ sidelines, I think it’s far more likely that Kyle Shurmur gets his chance in the NFL from another franchise. But as we’ve seen in the past with Tom Coughlin and son-in-law Chris Snee, you never know.

Matt Citak is a web producer for WFAN. Check him out on Twitter at @MatthewCitak.