Betting All on Eli Manning May Not Be Giant Mistake

New York Giants passed on QB at No. 2 in draft, but stats may back that play.

Eli Manning
Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants in action against the Dallas Cowboys on December 10, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There are a vocal segment of New York Giants fans still recovering from their team’s decision last month to use the second overall draft pick to select running back Saquon Barkley — instead of the next franchise quarterback. That puts the pressure squarely on the shoulder pads of incumbent QB Eli Manning, who is 37 years old and coming off several seasons of statistical decline.

Part of new GM David Gettleman’s decision to go all-in with Eli is clearly sentimental; a course correction after the outrage over the handling of Manning’s benching by former head coach Ben McAdoo.

But Sports Illustrated crunched some numbers that showed Manning may have potential to rebound. Pro Football Focus reported that he was fourth in the league last season in tight-window passes, in a class that includes Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz and Drew Brees; and that nearly 70% of his passes are thrown in under 2.5 seconds — 10% better than the rest of the NFL.

Manning’s receivers also dropped 43 passes on catchable balls last year, compared to 20 for Brees and 21 for Wentz.

Writes S.I.‘s Conor Orr:

“Despite the clamoring for a safe stashed quarterback at No. 2, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Dave Gettleman and Shurmur coming to the following conclusion: A more original play-calling script and increased presence in the backfield would put the team—at least offensively—on the same boat as other upper-tier franchises with a legitimate chance of reaching the playoffs.”

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