But Webb never saw the field in their 3-13 season. He dressed for only one game, the finale against the Washington Redskins when he served as Eli Manning’s backup, and the men who drafted him are now unemployed. It has left the new regime in a tricky spot with a 37-year-old starter, an unknown second-year prospect behind him and the No. 2 pick in the draft, which could be a quarterback.
Recently hired general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur don’t know all that much about Webb. How could they, or anyone else for that matter? His professional experience: a few preseason and practice reps.
Webb is going to be a second-year quarterback who was a third-round pick of the previous regime. How he factors into the Giants' future is an enigma, even to those now making the decisions.
“We went through the process on Davis Webb, and we thought he was an outstanding player. We liked how competitive he was. He's got size. He's got good arm strength,” said Shurmur, who spent most of the past two years as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. “We felt like he was a guy worthy of being drafted and having a chance to be a starter someday.
“Again, beyond that, I don't know much about him. There isn't much tape out there on him that I was able to see, and so he's another player that I'm looking forward to getting to know.”
So, basically, Webb is back where he started. He’s a mid-round crapshoot and how good he can be at the NFL level is anyone's guess. The Giants can hope, but they can’t count on him to be their next franchise quarterback. They can be optimistic with the way he worked and practiced in his rookie season -- they just can’t be sure it translates to the field.
There is nothing quite like game action at the NFL level. Even Webb admitted late this season he feels capable and ready, but until he does it in a game it’s only guesswork.
Gettleman and Shurmur would have had snippets of film to look at had the last month of the season not unfolded so clumsily for the Giants. Something would have been better than nothing, with a potentially franchise-changing decision staring them in the face with the No. 2 pick in April's draft.
Instead, the Giants hatched a plan to get Webb some playing time (either in the final three or four games), until they backtracked following Manning’s benching and the eventual firing of general manager Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo. Co-owner John Mara has repeatedly taken blame for the situation and still has regrets.
“At the point where our season was, it made sense to at least see what we had in the other two guys [Webb and Geno Smith]. I want to forget about that, so stop bringing it up,” Mara said last week, seemingly in a semi-joking manner. “It was something that was mishandled and I’ve taken responsibility for that. It falls on my shoulders. I wish we would’ve gotten a little more of a look at Davis Webb, but we have the opportunity to do that now.”
It’s a little late to affect this year’s draft, when the Giants potentially have a chance to select the franchise quarterback of their choice. The last time they had a top-five pick, they walked away with Manning. That worked out OK. He’s entering his 14th season as their starting quarterback and has won two Super Bowls. The Giants can only hope the next franchise quarterback (whether it be Webb, the No. 2 pick or somebody else) has a fraction of that success.
But with the draft on the horizon and the rules being what they are -- the Giants can’t really start practicing until after the draft -- it would be difficult to pass on the most important position in football with the No. 2 overall pick, even if they believed in Webb. They can’t responsibly move forward with so much unknown attached to their future at quarterback.
If Webb and the No. 2 pick both turn out to be franchise quarterbacks, so be it. That would be an enviable problem for the Giants to have. Fortunately, Gettleman noted in his introductory news conference that you can never have too many good players at one position. That is especially relevant at quarterback.