12 years ago, Aaron Rodgers sat in the green room at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, waiting to hear his name called. Projected by many to go to his hometown San Francisco 49ers first overall, Rodgers had to watch as the 49ers took Alex Smith. 23 picks -- and four hours and 18 minutes -- later, Rodgers was picked 24th overall by the Green Bay Packers, where he was destined to sit behind Brett Favre for three seasons.
Four times during his conference call with Bay Area media on Friday, another former California quarterback -- Davis Webb -- used the word "opportunity," to describe being drafted by the New York Giants in the third round (87th overall) in the NFL Draft. Giants general manager Jerry Reese spoke about his plans for Webb in a call with New York media, and his description of Webb's future could easily be mistaken for Rodgers's early years in the NFL.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1774166-davis-webb-drafted... "Couple years to be the caddie and learn the pro game and all the nuances of playing quarterback in this league," Reese said. "But he has all the tools. Hopefully he can sit on the sideline with a clipboard and learn the game."
Webb hadn't spent so much as a minute thinking about the parallels.
"No, no, no. I have not," he said. "I'm just really looking forward to being a member of the New York Giants, and obviously learning from the best ever, and trying to be the best quarterback and teammate I can possibly be. I have a long way to go, and there's no better organization out there."
Like the Packers in 2005, the Giants were surprised to see Webb -- who they had graded "fairly high" with the best arm in the draft -- fall. So were the pundits on the NFL Network. Webb had been projected to sneak into the end of the first round, to either the Cleveland Browns or the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers took Wisconsin linebacker -- and former Justin Wilcox protege -- T.J. Watt, and then USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster with the No. 62 overall pick. The Browns kept trading back, and looked to be in position to pick Webb, but instead picked DeShone Kizer in the second round with the No. 52 overall pick.
"I was all over the place, emotionally," Webb said. "I definitely believed that was going to happen, and I think a lot of other people did, too, but it just didn't happen that way. The NFL Draft's weird. Thinks kind of fell a little differently, or not the way it would have happened for that to happen, if that makes sense, but at the same time, I landed in a great spot, at a great organization, with a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Eli Manning, and so many great players on the roster, so I'm just very thankful for the opportunity."
The pick by the Giants wasn't entirely a surprise, even though New York didn't work Webb out, and had only sporadic communication with him since the combine.
One of the knocks on Webb is the fact that he's been in an Air Raid system for his entire collegiate career. Spread quarterbacks -- Both Alex and Geno Smith, among them -- have struggled to make the transition to the NFL, but while he was at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February and the first week of March, he got some tips from Giants coaches.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1690808-summer-of-webb "It was exciting, just talking football, and trying to find new ways to better myself, and learn new plays," he said. "I learned a couple new plays, and I actually got some tips on taking drops, and better ways to be explosive off the line of scrimmage."
Webb carries around with him a book full of plays he's picked up from his various coaches along the way, from high school throughs tops at Texas Tech (the Red Raider quarterback who Wally Pip-ed Webb, Patrick Mahomes, was picked by the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 10 overall) and then Berkeley. The son of a longtime high school coach, Webb has been thinking in X's and O's since he was six. He's one third of the way through his graduate degree from the Berkeley School of Public Health, and fully intends, he said, to finish, but right now, he's got another playbook to learn.
"I'm going to finish it," he said. "I'm kind of focused on learning a new playbook right now, and being the best New York Giant I can be first, before that happens."
Manning has three seasons left on his contract, which will take him to age 40. After drafting Webb, Reese called Manning to tell him. The Giants have drafted four quarterbacks since Manning arrived in New York in 2004, Webb included.
"What better person to learn from?" Webb said. "He's a two-time Super Bowl MVP, a Hall-of-Fame-type career, still playing great football, each and every play, each and every season. I'm just excited to be in the same quarterback room as him, along with so many great teammates on the Giants. They drafted probably my favorite tight end in this class in Evan Engram, so I'm looking forward to being a great teammate first, working hard and going from there.
"They obviously have some great players on their team, obviously Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and a great quarterback in Eli Manning, so I'm excited to be in the same organization, the same building as them. At the same time, I've got a long way to go. Those guys have made it, and I'm going to try to be a sponge around each and every one of them, and learn the most that I can from them."