The luxury Giants have if they take J.J. McCarthy risk at 2024 NFL Draft

If they take one of them, they won’t need him right away.

And so, identifying the most NFL-ready quarterback in the 2024 NFL draft is not an assignment the Giants need to ace.

The attraction nowadays around the league is toward experience — look how many games this guy started! — but the Giants do not have to follow the crowd with this one.

If they are intent on using their fairly lofty pick in the first round — No. 6 overall — to find the next leader of the offense and the franchise, they can look beyond 2024 and try to project what the prospect will look like a year or two from now.

The Giants can be patient if they decide to draft Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy. AP

The Giants have Daniel Jones, returning from ACL surgery and, if he is healthy, he will be the opening day starter.

Drew Lock was signed to serve as the backup.

Tommy DeVito is still around.

Any rookie added to the roster will not be asked to do anything other than this: adjust to the NFL, learn, observe and grow.

And sit.

If this leads the Giants to J.J. McCarthy, so be it.

Michigan’s offense didn’t always revolve around quarterback J.J. McCarthy during his seasons with the Wolverines. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

He is 21 years old — the youngest of all the top-rated quarterbacks in this class, six months younger than Drake Maye, also 21 — and McCarthy rarely was the centerpiece of anything as Michigan went 27-1 with him behind center.

Why would the Giants be confident handing the controls over to McCarthy when Jim Harbaugh opted to feature the run, and not McCarthy, and the passing attack?

That is what makes McCarthy more difficult to evaluate than other quarterbacks in this draft.

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The others at one time or another took over games with their arms.

McCarthy handed the ball off so often it was tempting to check if the forward pass had been abolished in Ann Arbor.

Of course, no one can quibble with the results.

The Wolverines this past season went 15-0 and won the national championship.

This is why investigating McCarthy is in many ways more labor-intensive than delving into the others.

Daniel Jones will start at quarterback for the Giants next season if he’s healthy. Charles Wenzelberg

On cue, McCarthy last Friday impressed at his pro day, which was totally predictable, given how predetermined and user-friendly these on-campus events tend to be.

The Giants sent assistant general manager Brandon Brown and quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Shea Tierney for an in-person look.

They also had McCarthy (and Maye) at their facility for a top-30 visit and have met with Jayden Daniels and Bo Nix.

General manager Joe Schoen and Tim McDonnell, the director of player personnel, attended Caleb Williams’ pro day at USC.

The Giants checked in on McCarthy at the Senior Bowl and also at the NFL Scouting Combine.

They will know all there is to know about all these quarterbacks.

McCarthy will play the entire 2024 NFL season at the age of 21, as he turns 22 on Jan. 20, 2025.

He has time to get bigger and stronger without having to play a single down.

Of course, he made NFL-type throws in college, but based on the nature of the Wolverines’ run-first and run-second offense, he did not attempt nearly as many of them as the other quarterbacks in this class.

Nix is 24 and threw a combined total of 1,936 passes at Auburn and Oregon.

Michael Penix Jr., 23, threw 1,685 passes at Indiana and Washington.

Daniels, 23, attempted 1,438 passes at LSU. Williams, 22, tossed 1,099 passes at USC.

Maye threw 952 passes at North Carolina. McCarthy threw only 713 passes at Michigan.

Nix leads the way with 108 touchdown passes, followed by Penix (96), Williams (93), Daniels (89) and Maye (63).

The Giants will have time to develop J.J. McCarthy if they decide to draft the Michigan quarterback at No. 6 overall. Getty Images

McCarthy, unsurprisingly, is far off the pace with 49.

Whoever puts the ticket in for McCarthy in the first round will base the decision on what he can do and not what he has done.

The Giants do not have much recent history on taking and then stashing quarterbacks.

Eli Manning in 2004 sat behind Kurt Warner for the first nine games before his NFL career was launched.

Manning knew his time was growing short when Daniel Jones was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Manning, though, was dismayed when he was benched that season after starting out 0-2 in what turned out to be his 16th and final year with the Giants.

A month ago, it seemed possible a team could wait on McCarthy and possibly trade up into the back end of the first round to get him.

Unless all the noise around him is all smoke and no fire, it feels as if McCarthy will not make it out of the top 10 — and might not be there at No. 6.

At least there is this: If the Giants take the plunge on a quarterback, they have time to develop him.

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