One of the shrewdest moves in recent NFL history was when the Green Bay Packers selected quarterback Aaron Rodgers with their first-round pick in 2005. When the Packers made that move they already had a hall of fame quarterback in Brett Favre but Green Bay knew a replacement would be needed in the near future. For three seasons Rodgers just held the clipboard for Favre but in 2008 when Favre and the Packers separated Rodgers was ready to step in and be the franchise quarterback.
The New York Giants are entering a similar situation with their franchise quarterback Eli Manning. Manning will turn 37 in January and he is coming towards the end of his career and many are wondering who will be the next quarterback for Big Blue. The signing of former Jets quarterback Geno Smith has not helped ease the fears of Manning’s retirement as Smith had a tumultuous time during his tenure with Gang Green. The hopes of finding Manning’s replacement many are hoping will come via the draft. And Big Blue can just look at their division rivals as both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins found their quarterbacks after the first round.
Dak Prescott took the NFL by storm as he filled in for injured quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys were one of the most dominant teams in 2016 due to a powerful running game and Prescott’s ability to exploit the opposition’s weaknesses. The rise of Prescott was one of the main narratives in the 2016 NFL season and the Giants can learn from their hated rival how to build a team that can succeed with a rookie quarterback.
And while Prescott did have a stellar rookie season, unlike many starting rookie quarterbacks, Prescott had many weapons around him. The Cowboys had the best offensive line in the league, a hall of fame wide receiver still in his prime in Dez Bryant, a hall of fame tight-end in Jason Witten, and a dynamic running back in Ezekiel Elliot. The hopes and dreams of the franchise did not solely rest on the shoulders of Prescott. By having game breakers at multiple positions Prescott could take charge of the Cowboys’ offense without being pressured by the opposing defense or have to win a game single-handedly. And while the Giants will have to replace Eli, Manning’s replacement could have the right pieces in place to ensure that the Giants are still contending when Eli retires.
The Redskins were looking for a franchise quarterback and believed they found it in the 2012 draft. At first many believed that Robert Griffin the III was the future of the organization. In 2012 RG3 was a pro bowl selection yet a knee injury against the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs appeared to have altered the career of RG3. When Griffin returned it seems that the league caught up to RG3 and the explosive playmaker was gone. Yet in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL draft Washington selected Kirk Cousins. Cousins’s is the player who always has the proverbial chip on his shoulder and it took him to 2015 to become the starter for Washington. But Cousins under center Washington finally made it to the playoffs.
By looking at both the packers, Cowboys, and Redskins a blueprint can be created on how to replace Eli. First, is to have a talented supporting cast which will include a solid offensive line, a strong receiver core and a power run game. Second would be to acquire the player through the draft, Eli’s replacement should be able to learn Ben McAdoo’s system on the sideline while Manning is still the signal caller.Third, will be to have a second option to replace Eli Manning. When Washington acquired RG3 Washington mortgaged their future by giving up multiple draft picks to obtain RG3 and that trade would be considered a bust because RG3 was not the savior of the organization. Yet, by having Cousins in tow they were able to have a steady hand running the offense.