In September, Schoen also attended Clemson-Duke in Durham, N.C., and Florida St.-LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Those two games featured plenty of talented players, including Duke QB Riley Leonard and LSU’s Jayden Daniels. Daniels is a senior, while Leonard is an underclassmen.
Most notably, Schoen attended USC’s game against Washington on Nov. 4 — a game that featured USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who won the 2022 Heisman Trophy, and Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
That game marked the second time this fall that Schoen attended a USC game, as he also was in attendance for USC-Notre Dame on Oct. 14.
Williams is an underclassman and faces the same draft-decision deadline as Maye and Leonard. Penix is a senior.
It should be noted that NFL general managers routinely schedule weekend college trips to coincide with where their teams play that Sunday, and there were a number of highly regarded prospects at each game. For example, the Giants played at the Las Vegas Raiders the weekend of the Washington-USC game in Los Angeles.
The Giants could also not end up drafting near the top of the first round. Backup QB Tyrod Taylor (injured reserve; ribs) could return as soon as Week 14, as could tight end Darren Waller (injured reserve; hamstring). Getting those two players back in the lineup could generate a few more wins.
Jones is slated to have knee surgery in the coming weeks and should be able to participate in Week 1 of the 2024 season, sources say. He’s due $35.5 million fully guaranteed on his base salary next year, an indication he’s likely to be on the team.
Jones’ injury history — he also missed games in 2021 and 2023 due to neck injuries — is indication the team could at least consider its options at the position.
The Giants currently have 16 players on their 53-man roster and reserve lists from the drafts that preceded the hiring of Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll in 2022. Just a handful (Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, for example) are starters; evidence they could go in multiple directions in the first round of the 2024 draft.
Could they opt to add a top-rated wide receiver to a skill group that includes tight end Darren Waller, rookie Jalin Hyatt and others for Jones? Or would they be in the market for a quarterback.
When Schoen was in Buffalo with Daboll as assistant general manager to Brandon Beane, the Bills used the 2018 season to reset a bit and prepare then-rookie Josh Allen to be their franchise QB. After overachieving the previous year with a surprise playoff berth, they utilized the 2018 season to set up their rise to prominence in the AFC. The hope for the Giants is a 2023 season that has been such a struggle with endless injuries to all of their key positions is used in a similar way.
Nothing will be more important than how they use that first-round pick.