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Giants QB watch: Sam Darnold starting to play like draft's top option

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The New York Giants are looking closely at college quarterbacks. The mandate was given when their season started to collapse. It’s the responsible thing to do with a high pick in next year’s draft.

After losing 31-21 on Sunday to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers this much is clear: The Giants (1-8) are in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. Only the Cleveland Browns (0-9) currently have fewer wins.

With Eli Manning soon to be 37 years old and the franchise in disarray, one of the top college quarterbacks could be the savior. They could be the quarterback of the Giants’ future.

Here’s an update on my ranking of the top options that could be available for the Giants in next year’s draft:

(Note: The buzz around USC’s Sam Darnold remains that he’s going to return to school)

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Darnold shows off his moves to the end zone

Sam Darnold fakes out the Colorado defense and scores a 24-yard touchdown.

  • 1. Sam Darnold, USC -- He had his struggles early this season but has turned it around. Darnold had his first turnover-less game on Saturday in a 38-24 win over Colorado. The redshirt sophomore made some tough throws and finished 21-of-34 for 329 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s starting to look like the consensus No. 1 quarterback in college football, making throws he didn’t make earlier this year. He even noted his deep-ball accuracy has improved. Darnold has now thrown 15 touchdowns and two interceptions in his last six games. Next up: UCLA

  • 2. Josh Rosen, UCLA -- He returned from a concussion and had a productive but not special game. He went 25 of 45 passing for 381 yards with one touchdown and an interception in a 44-37 win over Arizona State. Rosen has thrown multiple touchdown passes just once in his last five games. This week will be perhaps the best chance to showcase his talents, with the much ballyhooed matchup against Darnold and the rival Trojans. Next up: USC

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    Sooners make a statement

    Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield tosses three touchdown passes and Rodney Anderson accounts for four total scores in a 38-20 victory over TCU.

  • 3. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma -- He's worked his way into this group of top quarterbacks -- despite his relative lack of size -- with crazy video-game numbers. Mayfield had another flawless performance Saturday against TCU, throwing for 333 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also making plays with his legs (50 yards rushing on 11 attempts) as he inches closer to winning the Heisman Trophy. Next up: at Kansas

  • 4. Josh Allen, Wyoming -- He left Saturday’s win over Air Force with what appears to be a hand injury. It’s the latest blow in what has been an up-and-down season for the highly touted quarterback. If the injury is something that forces him to miss games, it would make the draft process that much more important for the smaller-school prospect. Allen still remains somewhat of an enigma to NFL teams given the lack of talent around him and the way this season has unfolded. Next up: Fresno State

  • 5. Lamar Jackson, Louisville -- The electric quarterback became the first player in history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in consecutive seasons. He accomplished that with 195 yards passing and four total touchdowns in a 38-21 win over Virginia. He now has 36 touchdowns this season. Wow. Jackson’s improvement as a passer also has been noticed by scouts. It has some intrigued. Next up: Syracuse