EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Davis Webb is behind Eli Manning on the football field, but he has caught him in the classroom.
Webb, the second-year pro who has yet to take a regular-season snap, and Manning, who has thrown 7,396 career passes, are both learning the offense brought to the Giants by new coach Pat Shurmur. The two quarterbacks, one 23 years of age, the other 37, have studied together and helped each other learn the terminology, pass routes, and nuances of the system.
Last year, Webb arrived as a third-round draft choice and dove into a system Manning had already played in for three years. The youngster impressed everyone with his work ethic and football smarts, but he couldn't approach Manning's knowledge of the offense.
"I think I got his respect early on last year, kind of doing so much stuff for him week to week, scheming defense-wise," Webb said. "Now, we're on the same level. When I got here a year ago, Eli was, I think, year four in the system. So he was at like algebra 20 and I was in addition. So I kind of caught up a little bit toward the end of the season, not near his level, obviously. But now, we're kind of starting off in addition and now we're moving on to algebra one. So we're getting there, we're kind of learning together, and it's been a lot of fun learning with him. He's got a lot of experience."
Manning and Webb are currently the only two quarterbacks on the Giants' roster. Their work this offseason strengthens the bond they developed during Webb's rookie season.
"I think Davis has always worked extremely hard, even last year," Manning said. "He likes watching film, he likes drawing up plays, he likes doing all those things, so we were in there a good bit. You can't really have any meetings with the coach (early in the offseason), and you're trying to learn a new offense. Really, the only way is kind of watching film. It was good watching it with someone else just because you can kind of help decipher what the read was or what the play was going on, or what the protections are and try to figure out some things. He works extremely hard on the field, in the film room, in the weight room, so he's got the right mentality for it all and it's good. That's who you like to surround yourself with, guys that work extremely hard and it even motivates me to work harder and to keep up with him."
Manning and Webb are splitting the snaps at the three-day voluntary minicamp that ends tomorrow. It is Shurmur's first chance to see his quarterbacks on the field, a significant showcase for a player like Webb whose only game experience was last preseason.
"You see his size, he's got excellent arm strength," Shurmur said. "I think he moves around real well and it's just a matter of just smoothing things out. So that's what you're trying to get as you go through kind of a pattern, or kind of a sequence of practices."
Another trait shared by the quarterbacks is their height – both Manning and Webb stand 6-foot, 5-inches, which pleases Shurmur.
"I fancy guys that are tall," the coach said. "You can see. Some of us are challenged in terms of height, so even in a setting like this, you're trying to find sightlines. It's no different for a quarterback when he is behind a very tall offensive line. All else being equal, as long as all the skillsets are equal or maybe even a little better than equal, guys that can see have a chance to be very good."
It's possible, of course, that the population in the quarterbacks room will grow tomorrow night, or in either of the two days after that. The Giants own six selections in the NFL Draft, and could conceivably select a quarterback with any one of them.
If they don't choose a quarterback, it could be read as a sign they have confidence in Webb – except that won't be Webb's conclusion.
"No, because Mr. (general manager Dave) Gettleman gets paid a lot and he's very high up on the chain, and his job is to make a decision that's going to help the Giants," Webb said, "So if that's a quarterback, or if that's another position, whatever. As long as it helps the New York Football Giants, and that's all I'm about. I'm a team guy, I've said that last year, I'll say it again. My number one goal is to be the best teammate I possibly can be and whoever we get (with the) number two overall pick, we're excited about and he's going to be a great member of our team."
*Shurmur said he has spoken to the two players who haven't participated in the camp, offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and defensive tackle Damon Harrison.
"I've talked to (Flowers) a couple of times," Shurmur said. "If you talk to the players, I'm sure there are certain players that have called him, but if they are not here – how much you can get done in a short phone call is not much."
Regarding Harrison, Shurmur said, "I'm aware of why he wasn't here. There's no real issues there… I expect him back soon."
*Shurmur was asked about drafting a player who can help the Giants win immediately as opposed to a quarterback who would likely sit behind Manning for at least a year.
"I think really the narrative is that every player we pick is going to help us win," Shurmur said. "Done. And that's the way I look at this. I really am excited about this draft because I really believe after going through the process and seeing the way that Dave and Kevin (Abrams, the assistant general manager) and all the scouts and all the player evaluation people and all the conversation, I'm very confident that we are going to pick players that are going to help us in all rounds of the draft, so that's where my excitement lies."
The Giants take the field for the second day of voluntary minicamp!