INDIANAPOLIS -- The quarterback hunt is on for the New York Giants at the NFL scouting combine. It is no accident that coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman already have watched every snap for Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray and the other top quarterbacks in the 2019 draft. They are fully invested, ready to secure the new face of the franchise if they find the right qualified candidate.
The Giants insist they are not going to force a quarterback decision. It is why they drafted running back Saquon Barkley second overall last year. If their evaluations don't reveal a quarterback they are willing to stake the future of their franchise on, they will defer on the decision yet again.
But don't be fooled by that rhetoric. The preferred plan is to take a quarterback in the first round (the Giants select No. 6 overall) and have him sit behind veteran Eli Manning this season. Let's call it the Kansas City model, in reference to the Chiefs stockpiling first-round pick Patrick Mahomes behind veteran Alex Smith as a rookie before Mahomes lit the NFL on fire this past season.
"Listen, the Kansas City model really worked well. How is that?" Gettleman answered when asked for clarification on whether the plan actually was to proceed with Manning this season.
Of course, this isn't apples to apples. It's more wishful dreaming. The Giants aren't the Chiefs. Smith was playing at a Pro Bowl level even with Mahomes on the bench and their roster was already playoff-ready. The Giants have won eight games in two years, missed the playoffs seven of the past eight seasons and Manning's play has dipped in recent years, no matter how much they chalk it up to his supporting cast.
Then there is the most monumental task of them all -- finding another Mahomes, or even someone relatively similar. Mahomes proved to be a quarterbacking unicorn who threw 50 touchdown passes and won the MVP award in his first year as a starter. That might come around only once in a lifetime.
The Giants still would welcome a slightly lesser version. The top quarterback to watch this year is Ohio State's Haskins. Then there is Murray, the diminutive Oklahoma signal-caller who shunned playing baseball for the NFL. Shurmur conceded that will run parallel to their decision-making, whether they like him or not. Duke's Daniel Jones and Missouri's Drew Lock are other potential options who have the chance to win over the Giants' brass during the evaluation process at this week's combine and the subsequent private visits and workouts.
There is still plenty of time left in this race to impress. Regardless of what you hear, the Giants have hardly made up their minds before meeting with the quarterbacks one-on-one, which will happen this week.
"[The combine] is just at the very beginning of the process," Gettleman said. "You've got Indy, you've got the workouts, we've got private visits, we've got interviews. You can't line them up now. And if anybody has them lined up now, God bless 'em. They're smarter than me."
What the Giants do know is who the front-runners are. It begins with Haskins.
Overall, they at the very least see intrigue in this group.
"The little bit that I've looked at, it's a nice-looking group," Gettleman said. "They come in all shapes and sizes -- that is for darn sure. It's a nice-looking group. Excited to watch them all perform on the floor and looking forward to interviewing all of them. It's only 15 minutes, but you can get a little feel for it. And then I'm looking forward to the interview process. The private-visit stuff, because you can really learn so much about a guy. It's a massive decision. He's the face of your franchise. He has to do all the right stuff for all the right reasons. You can't go to bed at night worrying about whether he's going to come in [on] time, no matter how talented they are."
The early returns on the character and leadership of Haskins and Murray have been positive. The question with Murray is his height. He's expected to measure in the coming days somewhere in the 5-foot-9 range.
That would seem to be problematic given the old-school Giants thinking. They downplayed that on Wednesday, insisting the measurables wouldn't rule Murray out of consideration.
"No. We're going to look at the player and decide whether he's the guy that we want to be with the Giants," Shurmur said.
They would like to find their guy in the first round. Gettleman talked about data showing that is where most true franchise quarterbacks are found.
Depending on how the combine and coming weeks unfold, that could mean the Giants -- like the Chiefs -- might need to move up to grab their quarterback. Kansas City moved from 27th to 10th in 2017 for Mahomes.
"No guts, no glory, kid," Gettleman said.
Not if they want to follow in the Chiefs' footsteps.