EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Some weekly whispers around the New York Giants and the NFL:
1. The Giants either pulled off the ultimate smokescreen or just utilized an extremely unorthodox approach with the selection of quarterback Davis Webb in the third round of the NFL draft. When Webb arrived Thursday for rookie minicamp, it was the first time he met coach Ben McAdoo and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. http://proxy.espn.com/blogadmin/new-yorkgiants/wp-admin/edit.php?page=statusPageTheir first impression of the Giants’ potential quarterback of the future really came almost two weeks after he was picked.
“First impression is he's tall,” Sullivan said of the wiry 6-foot-5 quarterback. “I had to look up and say hello. … Good, firm handshake, look you right in the eye. Heck of guy. All the reports that I read say that he's very bright, a gym rat. One of those guys that can't watch enough film. Came across that way, as someone that is very bright and going to be a hard worker. I was generally pleased with the first impression when I first met him [Thursday] night.”
This is not your usual situation. Teams generally put quarterbacks under the microscope in person before investing a high draft pick. Webb was selected No. 87 overall, without a pre-draft visit or workout for his new team.
Of the first eight quarterbacks selected, Webb was the only one who didn’t visit or have a private workout with the team that drafted him. Even the Chicago Bears, for all their secrecy with Mitchell Trubisky, put him through a covert private workout.
Webb's only real correspondence with the Giants was a meeting two months earlier at the NFL scouting combine. Sixth-round pick Brad Kaaya (Lions) and seventh-round Mr. Irrelevant Chad Kelly (Broncos) also didn’t appear to have pre-draft contact with their new teams.
It’s a seemingly awkward way of doing business. The Chiefs grilled Patrick Mahomes for six hours to make certain he could handle the seismic difference between Texas Tech’s "Air Raid" offense and Andy Reid’s West Coast scheme. Webb started his college career at Texas Tech and finished in a similar system at Cal. By all accounts, he’s a smart, hard-working young man who should be able to handle the transition.
On Thursday night, before the first rookie minicamp practice, Webb was at his hotel studying the offense on flashcards with first-round pick Evan Engram. So right now, there doesn’t seem to be a concern. But it’s still an unorthodox approach to select a quarterback in the first two days of the draft without in-person due diligence. Their reason is that there are a lot of intangibles that go into being a successful quarterback. Usually teams don't feel like they have a good handle on it all without spending significant time with a quarterback.
The Giants put a lot of trust in their scouting process and hope they didn’t miss out on diagnosing any character flaws with their approach.
2. The Giants' plan, according to special-teams coach Tom Quinn, is for Dwayne Harris to be the primary kick and punt returner despite struggles last season. Harris averaged just 24.2 yards on kickoff returns and a paltry 5.9 yards on punts. He also had three fumbles.
Still, with a track record of success that includes four career return touchdowns and averages of 26.5 yards on kickoffs and 9.8 yards on punts, he’ll receive another chance. Quinn did mention Odell Beckham Jr. as another option on punts.
3. The Giants had a couple players in the draft they thought could kick in the league. They were drafted. So now they appear all-in on giving Aldrick Rosas a shot to be their kicker this season.
And he might not even have serious competition this spring or summer.
“The problem nowadays is there’s a lot less kicks than there used to be,” Quinn said. “With no more two-a-days and limited practice, you have to give the guys everything you can. If you start bringing in two or three kickers, it really waters it down.”
Rosas wasn’t on a roster last year. He was cut by the Tennessee Titans last summer. The Giants scooped him up after their season ended. They like his strong leg and, so far, he’s been accurate this spring.
4. All appears well with defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, who posted on social media that he was taking a break from football this offseason. Odigizuwa was back a week or so later for the start of the offseason workout program. He was dealing with what was called a personal matter.
“Guys go through things in the offseason and they plug on,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said on Friday.
5. While second-year running back Paul Perkins has been anointed the starting running back, second-year linebacker B.J. Goodson hasn’t been given the same vote of confidence at middle linebacker. The Giants will only say that last year’s fourth-round pick will receive a fair shot at grabbing (at least) the role that Kelvin Sheppard played last season as the starting middle linebacker in the base formation.
Goodson and Keenan Robinson are believed to be the favorites to win the job. Robinson served as a nickel linebacker last season. He played 70 percent of the defensive snaps, second-most among Giants linebackers.
6. Mark Herzlich’s number changed (from 94 to 44) so that he can be eligible on offense. He’s worked to learn the playbook this offseason, and he noted it increases his value to the team.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo didn’t seem to make much of the change.
“Yeah, he has been working on offense for a couple years now,” he said. “I heard he changed his number, but that doesn’t impact anything.”
It would be a surprise to see Herzlich as a serious option at tight end, especially after the selection of Engram in the first round.
7. The Giants’ rookies will be at the facility Sunday partaking in an off-the-field day. There will be meetings, strength and conditioning training and “mental conditioning,” according to McAdoo. Then the rookies will co-mingle with the veterans this week as they close out Phase 2 of the offseason workout program.
The following Monday, May 22, will be the start of organized team activities and Phase 3. There, the Giants will conduct practices that include offense-vs.-defense scrimmages with no pads for the first time this season.
8. The 34 players who came and went on tryouts this weekend at the Quest Diagnostic Training Center at least had a few good meals. It is becoming common to hear raves about the Giants’ cafeteria. The latest vote of confidence came from rookie running back Wayne Gallman.
“The food is great. It’s really good,” the fourth-round pick said of his biggest surprise during his first two days at the facility. “[Thursday] we had a lot of stuff. Meatloaf. Not everyone can make meatloaf, but it was good meatloaf.”
A satisfied stomach makes for a happier customer. Hey, every little bit helps when you’re trying to win in the competitive NFL.