EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Davis Webb looked around the quarterback room earlier this spring and saw it was a two-man club. Webb and Eli Manning were the only quarterbacks on the New York Giants' roster at the time. The two were working side by side, with the youngster following the veteran every day like a puppy dog, according to general manager Dave Gettleman.
It was sufficient for the time being. This was before the draft. They knew there would be additions, possibly even with the No. 2 pick. That didn’t happen, but the room did eventually get more crowded.
“I knew we were going to do something,” Webb said earlier this week after working with the second-string offense at OTAs. “I knew we needed three, four guys. I expected us to take somebody, whether it be in free agency, which we did with Alex, or draft like we did with Kyle.
“I expected that. Not from a Davis perspective, but from a GM perspective, you had to do it.”
It has set the stage for a crucial summer and interesting future. Manning begins as the clear-cut first-team starter with Webb the favorite to be the backup. Lauletta is the young project who will have the opportunity to make serious inroads, while Tanney has the deck stacked against him behind a two-time Super Bowl winner, last year’s third-round pick and this year’s fourth-rounder.
Manning is 37 years old. He will be 38 before any playoff game is played. He’s nearing the end of a potential Hall of Fame career. When it ends (whether it’s next year or three years down the road), Webb and Lauletta likely will be in line as the successor, in no particular order. In the meantime, they’ll be jostling for position as the quarterback of the future.
There is little question right now about who will start this season. The Giants quadrupled down on Manning this offseason and he’s working with the first-team offense this spring. Webb has taken a majority of the second-team reps at OTAs, with Tanney currently stacked ahead of Lauletta, who spent most of Monday’s practice watching.
Lauletta’s standing is likely the byproduct of being just several weeks into his NFL career and the Giants’ playbook. It surely will change. As Webb explained, last year Manning was in Algebra 20 and the newcomer was learning basic addition. That is what Lauletta is facing this year.
Lauletta, 22, still will ultimately be given the opportunity to compete with Webb this season to be Manning’s backup, even if he begins at a deficit and as an underdog.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m always going to try to compete and try to perform as best I can,” Lauletta said during rookie minicamp earlier this month. “I don’t really see it like [Davis and I competing to be the backup] and I don’t think Davis does either. Like I said, we’re all in this together, we’re all in the same boat learning a new offense, so we’ll definitely be close and be friends and help each other out as best as we can. Just try to help each other grow and try to develop so as far as who’s the backup and stuff. Of course, both of us are going to compete and both of us are going to try to earn that spot, but that’s so far ahead in the future [that] I just don’t think it’s worth even thinking about right now.”
Manning and Webb have welcomed Lauletta with open arms. Manning reached out to the rookie after the draft and Webb said he plans to golf with Lauletta this weekend. Lauletta would’ve joined Webb and Tanney on the course this past weekend if he hadn't been in Los Angeles attending the NFLPA Rookie Premiere.
No matter the off-the-field bond, there always will be comparisons between Webb and Lauletta, even if they are very different quarterbacks. Webb is the confident, big-armed workaholic.
Lauletta is the tough, cerebral, instinctive rookie absorbing the basic fundamentals of being an NFL quarterback. His biggest advantage may be that he was drafted by the new regime consisting of coach Pat Shurmur and Gettleman. Webb was the selection of former coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese.
Both young quarterbacks fit Shurmur's offense given their ability to move well and navigate the pocket. The Giants' new offense allows for more freelancing compared to the West Coast scheme they ran previously.
These are all factors as they eye the backup job or title as the quarterback of the future.
“My job is to put as much pressure on the coaches that they feel they have to play me,” Webb said. “Obviously we have Eli, so that is a little different. That is my goal. Just make them feel if I have to go out there and something were to happen and I’d have to go in and play, there would be no drop-off.”
Lauletta also understands that it’s Eli Manning’s team. It’s the jockeying for position behind him and for the future that has just begun.