Which top quarterback prospect is the best fit for the Giants?

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There is little doubt the New York Giants would like to add a quarterback in Thursday's NFL draft. They may not be in total desperation mode to make it happen, but it is the preferred outcome.

There is no other way to explain the time and resources the Giants have put into the quarterback position during the pre-draft process. Almost all the top quarterbacks were in for visits and either had private workouts or the team's most important decision-makers attended their Pro Days.

The biggest remaining questions at this point: Where and when can they get one? How much would it cost and who is the best fit?

Multiple NFL general managers told ESPN in the week prior to the draft that they believed quarterbacks would be selected with each of the top four picks. The Giants have the No. 6 pick.

That would mean they'd have to trade up in order to get either UNC's Drake Maye or Michigan's J.J. McCarthy, assuming USC's Caleb Williams and LSU's Jayden Daniels were the top two picks. Think something in line with pick No. 6 in this year's draft and either a first- or second-round pick next year to enter the conversation at picks Nos. 3 or 4. Even that is not believed to be enough for the New England Patriots' pick at No. 3.

It's going to be costly, no doubt. There is a so-called "QB tax" that the Arizona Cardinals would get for trading the No. 4 pick to a quarterback-hungry team.

"I would say that's probably true if people know what you're coming up for," Giants general manager Joe Schoen said, before referencing his experience in 2018 in Buffalo when the Bills traded up twice to select Josh Allen at No. 7.

In the second of two trades, the Bills gave up the No. 12 pick and two second-rounders that year just to move up to pick No. 7. Schoen was the assistant general manager under Brandon Beane at the time.

Now, Schoen has the sixth pick, which holds much more value than 12. But it's thought in league circles that the Minnesota Vikings are eyeing a trade-up, having collected two first-round picks (Nos. 11 and 23).

The best and most recent indicator of what it would cost to move up to pick No. 4 for a quarterback might be the San Francisco 49ers' trade to get up to No. 3 in 2021. That ultimately netted them Trey Lance, which did not work out. It cost them the 12th pick, two future first-rounders and a future second-rounder.

That is essentially the equivalent in value of the Giants giving up pick No. 6, along with their first- and second-round picks next year. That is a tough ask, considering all the major holes Schoen currently has on the roster.

Of course, none of it matters if the quarterback the Giants desire is not available. Here's a look at the options:

Jayden Daniels

He had the best 2023 tape of the top quarterback prospects. The Giants were really impressed and would likely pounce if he somehow became available, however unlikely it seems. Daniels is a nightmare for opposing defenses with his arm and legs.

"He's just the ultimate playmaker. His feel for the game, production is great," former NFL executive Marc Ross said. "They do a lot of quick stuff at LSU, and then he can break you off and break your back with his arm or his legs with the stuff he does. All the off-the-field stuff, you love that."

The Heisman winner rushed for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns and threw 40 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. Evaluators like that he got better every year.

A scout who studied Daniels closely thought he would be the best fit in Daboll's scheme because of his versatility.

"You can do so much more with him because I still don't think he's a finished product," the scout said. "With the arm and the legs and the run-pass stuff, you have to account all 11 on defense for him. He's a headache, in a good way."

Durability is a concern of some. Daniels weighed 210 pounds at his Pro Day, but one assistant general manager thought he would dip under 200 during the season, which could be a problem if the young quarterback doesn't know how to protect himself.

"He does some silly stuff out of the pocket," the assistant GM said.

The executive says it's a learnable skill, something Lamar Jackson has improved after trying to run people over early in his career.

Drake Maye

The physical talent is there: He has a big arm and size (6-foot-4, 223 pounds). It's a good fit in Daboll's offense, which favors 11 personnel, spreads you out, gets the ball out quickly and is built around the quarterback's legs and mobility.

"He looks the part," an executive said. "He can throw it."

Maye threw for 3,608 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. All were down from the previous year. His 2022 tape was better than this past season, but so was his supporting cast.

Maye has shown he can make just about any throw and has the requisite athletic ability to escape the pocket and make plays. The Giants thought highly of Maye entering the draft process. It's unlikely much changed their minds considering he has it all off the field.

There is a strong belief by some in the league that Maye is the Giants' guy. Perhaps it has to do with him being the most similar to Daboll's former pupil, Allen. Maye is the one who could force New York to mortgage part of its future in order to address the most important position on the roster. He also could benefit from sitting a year behind Daniel Jones.

"He's only 21 years of age," ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said. "He's going to keep getting better. ... If you want to hit the home run, you take Drake Maye."

Some concerns among evaluators range from being too inconsistent to an inability to raise the level of his teammates.

"I know there are some people who have a really hard time with Drake Maye's mechanics," an executive who studied Maye said. "He dips the ball low and has a low release. From a ball security standpoint, I think that is problematic."

He's the most boom-or-bust quarterback at the top of this draft.

J.J. McCarthy

The national championship winner is perhaps the most controversial of the top quarterback prospects. He threw for 2,991 yards with 22 touchdown passes and four interceptions as a junior at Michigan, where he was primarily a passenger in a run-heavy offense. McCarthy didn't even officially throw a pass in the second half of a win over Penn State.

But the Giants are clearly intrigued. He visited, had a private workout around Easter and met with them at the combine. The interest is real for pick No. 6. The question is whether the Giants are all-in and willing to trade up to land him ahead of Minnesota.

McCarthy's rise up draft boards isn't quite as monumental as most believe. A general manager told ESPN after the combine he would be a top-10 pick. Teams really do seem to like the talent, not just the résumé.

"I don't think there is a shortage of talent there," one assistant GM said. "There might be an incomplete résumé because he wasn't a volume passer. That's not really his fault."

It makes McCarthy a projection more than most. But he has a strong arm and enough ability to make plays out of the pocket. At 6-2, 219, he's big enough, but perhaps isn't the stereotype for Daboll's offense. McCarthy, though, has reportedly excelled in the pre-draft process.

Some evaluators, however, still aren't sold.

"He's better than Mac Jones," the evaluator said. "If you want J.J. to go in there and say, 'Hey, let's get this guy, go in there and compete with these big dogs,' nah. He has to play like he played at Michigan. Shootouts and things, he's just not that guy."

The evaluator later compared McCarthy to former 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and pondered if that is what you want at pick No. 6. He thought the same of the Giants taking Jones at No. 6 in 2019.

McCarthy is a lightning rod because of the wide range of opinions. One general manager had him as the No. 2 quarterback in this draft. A scout had him fourth behind Williams, Daniels and Maye. An executive had him sixth behind Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. It's a true mixed bag on McCarthy.