QB prospects would embrace being Eli's backup

Posted Mar 2, 2018

The Top QB prospects spoke with the media Friday at the NFL Combine:

If the Giants do in fact draft a quarterback this year, the writing on the wall says that the No. 2 pick initially will have to be a backup.

Both general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur have made it clear that they believe Eli Manning has “years” left as a starter in the NFL. And on top of having the two-time Super Bowl MVP on the team, there is also the matter of Davis Webb, a third-round pick from the previous regime.

So how would this year’s top prospects deal with going from being the guy on Saturdays to holding a clipboard on Sundays? Their answers said a lot about the individual.

“If an organization wants to draft me, it’s their choice of what they do with me when I get there,” USC’s Sam Darnold said. “So I would just be happy and make the most of any opportunity.”

“If he asks me to be a backup, I’m going to be the country’s best backup quarterback,” UCLA’s Josh Rosen said. “I’m going to support my starter through everything. It might be, I don’t know, a rough relationship at the beginning because they kind of see the dynamic, but I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to help the team win. If they ask me to compete for the starting job, I’m going to compete my butt off. So whatever coach asks me to do, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

“That’d be fantastic,” Wyoming’s Josh Allen said. “I’ve seen Eli Manning at the Manning Passing Academy. He’s a super reserved guy that he knows his stuff. He’s won two Super Bowls. Beating Tom Brady, it’s a tough task, but he’s done it twice in the Super Bowl. Knowing that organization has the mindset of winning, that’s what they want to do, would be a blessing. If I got the opportunity to go there and sit behind him for one or two or even three years and just learn everything that I could, grabbing him whenever I had a question and hopefully he would answer it for me and just seeing what he does on and off the field, would be really big for myself.”

And then there was Baker Mayfield.

“First things first, whatever team I go to, I’m not going to settle for a backup job,” the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma said. “I’ve never been like that and I never will. I’m going to push that person in front of me. When it comes down to it, the best man’s going to win -- and I know that – but everybody has a role on the team. If you’re not improving and pushing those guys around you to be better, then you’re not doing it right. So, yeah, I would be more than happy to be on the Giants, but it’s the same thing for any other team.”

So there you have it.

In addition to that topic, the top quarterbacks were asked plenty of other questions during their media session on Friday before Saturday’s workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here were the highlights:


Darnold made headlines as things were kicking off in Indianapolis by opting out of the passing drills at the combine. Today, he explained why.

“Because I felt like it was just the best decision,” he said. “I felt like it was the best decision for me, and obviously I’m going to throw at my Pro Day and I think that’s a good opportunity for teams to be able to look at how I can spin it and I’m going to be throwing to guys who I played with. So I just think given all the information that I had, I thought that was the best decision.”

Darnold said there were no medical issues going into the decision. USC’s Pro Day is March 21. He won’t be debuting a new throwing motion, either, because frankly he doesn’t need it.

“The motion I have is what got me to this point, and I really haven't gotten into trouble with it,” Darnold said. “It doesn't change how fast I get the ball out. If I need to shorten up and get the ball in right now, I'm able to shorten my release and get it to them. But if I need to throw it downfield, I've had a tendency of really cocking back and trying to let it go, where I just have to get my hip through more. That's something I've been working on, but I don't think it's changing. My throwing motion is fine.”


Heading into the draft process, Mayfield knew he would have to answer plenty of character questions from his college days. Whether it’s a reporter asking them in front of a microphone or a front office executive asking in a team interview, Mayfield answers them the same way.

“Honest, tell the true story,” he said. “When I got tackled by the cops in Arkansas, I tell them a true story. When I talk about planting the flag at Ohio State I tell them a true story, about the fact that was an emotional win, that was one we worked for over a year for after they embarrassed us in our home stadium. And you want to talk about the Kansas thing, it’s about where you draw the line and being professional. If you want to be a franchise guy, there are certain things I can’t do, but I’m still going to be competitive and passionate. That’s gotten me to this point, so we talk about it, I’m up front about it.’’

Mayfield also said he was the most accurate quarterback in the class and if anybody’s going to turn the Cleveland Browns around, it would be him. Cleveland holds the top pick ahead of the Giants.


The Giants hired Shurmur as their new head coach during Senior Bowl week at the end of January. There, he had a chance to meet Allen, who went 9 of 13                for 158 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in the college all-star game in southern Alabama.

“Coach Shurmur is a super bright mind,” Allen said. “I like him a lot. I actually got the chance to talk to him in Mobile, sat down with him for a little bit. He’s a really good dude. If I was fortunate enough to play under him, I’d be super stoked.”