Five things to know about Giants rookie Davis Webb, Eli Manning's possible successor
Geno Smith will start Sunday, but it might not take long for the Giants to insert Webb
On Tuesday, the Giants shocked the world by doing the one thing we thought they'd never have the guts to do: The Giants will start Jets castoff Geno Smith against the Raiders on Sunday, but it's rookie Davis Webb who holds the most intrigue. Smith might be the current starter, but Webb is the one with a legitimate shot to succeed Manning as the Giants' franchise quarterback. We've seen plenty of Smith before, and it hasn't been pretty.
With that in mind, let's take a look at Webb and what he brings to the Giants. In 2016, I covered Webb's final college season at Cal, and. Consider this the short version of that story.
Here are five things to know about Webb ...
Note: All of the quotes below are from that story above, which was published in April.
1. An interesting college career
Webb's college career actually began at Texas Tech. And it began with a whole lot of promise. He led Texas Tech to a win at the Holiday Bowl, where he won MVP as a true freshman. He was voted team captain heading into the 2014 season and was considered a dark horse Heisman candidate.
Injuries, though, ended up ruining his career at Texas Tech. He ended up losing his starting job to Patrick Mahomes, a first-round pick of the Chiefs who will likely replace Alex Smith potentially as soon as next season. He wound up transferring to Cal for his final college season. The Bears desperately needed a quarterback with Jared Goff heading to the NFL. Webb immediately took over the starting job and thrived.
At Cal, Webb completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 4,295 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. That stat line looks pretty similar to Goff's during his final season at Cal when he completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 4,714 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
2. He's not Jared Goff 2.0
But Webb and Goff couldn't be more different.
"We're just different," Webb told me last spring. "Not better or worse. Just totally different."
They're different off the field. Just ask Jets receiver Chad Hansen, who played with both Goff and Webb at Cal.
"I think the biggest differences are off the field," Hansen told me. "Davis is more of an intense -- his leadership style is more intense. Jared's is more laid back."
And they're different on the field. At Cal, Goff's coaches and teammates raved about his flawless footwork and ball placement. Webb is known more for his arm strength. They also had different offensive coordinators, which shouldn't be overlooked -- meaning they ran different offenses, even if they both played under then-Cal head coach Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid system. Goff ran a system that leaned heavily on run-pass options. Webb ran a system that didn't really involve RPOs.
Webb was also required to do more before the snap.
"We gave Davis a tremendous amount of freedom -- more than we gave Jared," Dykes told me. "A lot of that has to do with what a guy is comfortable with. Certainly Jared had a great knowledge of our offense and what we were trying to do and everything, but I think he was a little more comfortable not having to direct traffic maybe not as much as Davis was.
"Davis likes directing traffic. That's kind of who he is."
Davis Webb and Jared Goff are not the same quarterbacks, evidenced by Goff going No. 1 overall and Webb going No. 87 overall.
3. Why he's considered a developmental QB
So yeah, Webb is a developmental prospect unlike Goff, who was viewed as a franchise savior. And with good reason.
Webb spent his entire college career in spread-based systems. Mastering an NFL offense will take time. He also didn't experience nearly as much success as Goff. Even his stellar final season was marred by some bad decision making -- a flaw he acknowledged, by the way.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein pointed out in his scouting report of Webb that "five of his 12 interceptions in 2016 were along deep sidelines due to under-throws and failure to read safety help." Webb didn't necessarily disagree.
"Some of it could just be that we're down in the game and I'm just trying to make a play out of nothing," Webb told me. "That's something I need to continue to grow on. I've gotten better each and every year. But when the other team has a good amount of points on you and you're three touchdowns behind and you're in the fourth quarter, you want to try to take some risk. Those risks kind of bit me in the butt sometimes. Sometimes, they worked out, we came back and won those games. Sometimes, it didn't."
According to Pro Football Focus, Webb was accurate on only 38.6 percent of his deep passes last year, which would've ranked 18th in the NFL last year. He was also at his worst against top competition.
Webb was by no means a perfect quarterback prospect. But clearly, he has promise.
4. Why he has promise
He has promise because he boasts the kind of raw attributes that so few people on the planet have. He's got incredible arm strength and can make NFL-caliber throws. According to PFF (via Stack), 18 of his 37 touchdowns last year traveled at least 20 yards in the air.
"I love throwing the deep ball," Webb told me. "That is something I'm not scared of."
He's got the size and athleticism. He's listed at 6-foot-5 and 229 pounds. Perhaps most importantly, he's a football junkie. He's the son of a coach. He began creating his own playbook when he was a kid. He wants to be a coach after his playing career. His playbook is already completed. Cal's offensive coordinator in 2016, Jake Spavital, told me that he gave him more freedom than any other quarterback he's coached -- a list that includes Case Keenum, Geno Smith, Brandon Weeden, and Johnny Manziel. He loves breaking down film.
"If you give me the information, I'm going to learn it because it's important to me," Webb told me. "This isn't a hobby of mine. This is an addiction."
To put it another way, he's not going to fail because of a lack of effort. It just remains to be seen how much his work ethic will matter. If work ethic and intangibles were the only qualities that matter, Tim Tebow would still be in the NFL.
5. But history is against third-round picks
For every Russell Wilson, there a million third-round quarterbacks who didn't ever pan out.
It's a reminder that Webb is no lock to take Manning's throne. With that being said, the Giants need to find out if Webb has a future in New York. And they should find out as soon as they think he's ready for the NFL.
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