What to make of Jerry Reese and the Giants' pre-draft interest in quarterbacks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The dust is starting to settle, and the NFL draft is around the corner. General manager Jerry Reese and the New York Giants have done extra homework on quarterbacks.

This isn’t anything mind-blowing after Reese said at the end of the season that Eli Manning is on the “back nine” of his career at 36-years-old. It’s simply something worth monitoring depending on how the draft unfolds.

The Giants remain unlikely to select a quarterback early, but they’re keeping their options open just in case the right player is available at the right time. It would take an extraordinary string of events (such as Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky slipping to the bottom half of the first round) for them to pull the trigger.

That is the feeling come draft time after the Giants were closely monitoring the quarterback situation.

“Myself personally? I probably looked at more quarterbacks this time then I did at other times, but there are only so many guys that you can look at,” Reese said.

This comes after Reese conceded at the end of the season the Giants would be wise to at least be on the lookout for their next franchise quarterback. And so this year’s draft process unfolded with the Giants a bit more noticeable around the draft’s top quarterbacks. Maybe it was because we were all looking, or maybe there was a significant difference. Regardless, Reese was at Trubisky’s pro day at North Carolina, coach Ben McAdoo was at Patrick Mahomes’ pro day at Texas Tech, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was at DeShone Kizer’s pro day at Notre Dame and Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross was at Nathan Peterman’s pro day at Pittsburgh.

Some of that may have been coincidence. The quarterbacks aren’t the only prospects at their respective schools. But it’s not completely coincidental. The Giants are admittedly on the lookout for a quarterback.

The way it works is that Ross and his staff scout just about every prospect possible. That is their year-round job. It’s almost the same every year. They work as if anything and everything is on the table. Later in the process, they then narrow down the field and pass it off to Reese, who then gets to work to further investigate the more serious possibilities.

The question is whether the Giants and Reese were impressed enough with what they saw at the quarterback position to pull the trigger at some point in the draft. Reese and the Giants select 23rd overall in the first round. They select 55th overall in the second round.

“We will keep all of our options open,” Reese said about the prospects taking a quarterback with their first pick.

That’s likely nothing more than hedging his bets. Reese and the Giants live on the “never say never” mantra. They won’t close the door on it, even if it seems a significant longshot for a team that is hopeful to seriously compete for a Super Bowl this season.

Reese continually (nine times!) used the phrase “best player available” during his Thursday pre-draft press conference. It’s hard to imagine the best player available at pick 23 is the third or fourth-best quarterback in a weak quarterback draft.

Don’t be fooled either. Even though there will be three (Trubisky, Watson and Mahomes) or maybe four (watch out for Davis Webb) quarterbacks selected in the first round on Thursday night, this isn’t a strong QB class. The best player for the Giants won’t be a quarterback at pick 23 or 55.

And so the search for Manning’s successor will stretch another year or two. If anything, the Giants still seem more likely to find a future backup in the mid-to-late rounds of this year’s draft.