INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Manning was not born 38 years old. There was a time when he was in his early 20s and looking to make an impression at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Everyone knew he would make it with his arm and not with his legs. So when he lined up and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, it was not a big deal that he was not very fast. Manning will return for a 16th season with the Giants and the first one was much like the 15th — Manning’s success linked to his arm and not his legs.
So it probably is not a big deal that Dwayne Haskins on Saturday showed he is not very fast, clocking in at 5.04 in the 40-yard dash. Trace McSorley ran 4.58, Drew Lock of Missouri ran 4.7 and Will Grier of West Virginia ran 4.84. Even Daniel Jones of Duke, at 4.82, moved more quickly than Haskins.
At a robust 231 pounds, Haskins is a big young man with a physical presence. At times last season, he was criticized for being reluctant to pull the ball down and run with it, and it was after he started to become a marginal threat on the ground that the Buckeyes offense picked up steam.
Manning, of course, lasted this long without any inclination to run with the ball. He is able to slide in the pocket, though, and Haskins can do the same.
“There’s many elements to mobility,’’ Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “[Manning] ran more boots and nakeds this year than he has since he was at Ole Miss. He has the mobility to run and change the launch spot of the throw. There’s elements of mobility where a guy can just take off and run and gain 60. Then there’s the mobility in the pocket to clear your feet, clear your vision and make a throw. Yeah, I still think he has mobility.’’
General manager Dave Gettleman said he learned back in the mid-90s, from Mike Shanahan in Denver, the need for a quarterback to escape pressure.
“In this day and age with all the athletes on the field at some point in time a quarterback’s got to make plays with his feet,’’ Gettleman said. “And making plays with your feet doesn’t mean you [run] 4.4. It’s the subtle pocket stuff guys do.’’
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Haskins is a pocket passer, and his arm talent was impressive during the throwing portion of the drills. The Giants are familiar with that style of quarterback.
“I really value a guy that can move around because that doesn’t mean he’s a runner,’’ Shurmur said. “It just means he has a way to clean his feet in the pocket or scramble when necessary. Typically, if you’re going to have long drives and do it on a consistent basis, somewhere in that drive the quarterback has to do something with his feet to keep a drive alive or get a first down. Even guys that are not considered mobile, it might be subtle movement in the pocket. That mobility, I think, is very important. I think it’s essential, really, for a quarterback to have great success.”