I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching Trace McSorley in 2016’s Big Ten Championship. Mostly because I worked at a Penn State bar at the time. There were many moments of celebration that night; Still, I remember particularly the start of the fourth quarter, when McSorley cannoned the ball to Saquon Barkley for an 18-yard touchdown, giving Penn State their first lead in the game. Security lifted me and another bartender onto the counter of the bar, as we held sparklers and poured Jameson into the many cheering open mouths below.
McSorley won the MVP of that game, and with reason. For all intents and purposes, Penn State should have lost. But the Nittany Lions’ clutch leading man escorted the pack from a 21-point deficit to a victory. Now, he has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft and is projected by NFL.com to go unclaimed and enter free agency after a slump this past year, likely due to the loss of Barkley. So wouldn’t a reunion with his former passing partner show the NFL what McSorley is really made of? After all, plenty of excellent quarterbacks went undrafted in previous years (see: Tony Romo, championship-winning Kurt Warner, and Hall-of-Famer Warren Moon).
Getting the Band Back Together: Trace McSorley would Thrive if Picked Up By the Giants
A Nittany Lion for the Ages
McSorley has proved himself productive in more than just the Big Ten Championship, or the Fiesta Bowl of 2017, for which he also was named MVP. The Big Ten is not an easy conference in which to compete, and despite statistical shortcomings, McSorely fought hard with his team for all four seasons. He has excellent instincts to compensate for his average arm strength. At six feet and 202 pounds, he is one of the smaller quarterbacks in the draft. But what he lacks in size he makes up for in conviction. While he’s never had a problem getting the ball out of his hands when the time is right, he has mobility when necessary. To make up for a talent-barren running back department, he rushed 798 yards this past year alone.
It’s hard to measure McSorley’s strengths and weaknesses based on the past season, simply because he didn’t have the receivers he needed. I mean, we can’t blame the Green Bay Packers’ regression this year on Aaron Rodgers. He didn’t have a team to back him up. McSorley had 11 passes batted this season. So what? He also rushed for twelve touchdowns – his career high.
His combine 40-yard dash was the fastest of all quarterbacks who participated; his vertical jump higher than all projected Round One quarterbacks (Kyler Murray did not partake in the combine). In every other trial, McSorley scored (or tied) within the top four of every other participating passer. The weight of that 2018 Penn State season is the only thing holding McSorley back from a higher draft projection. In fact, had he declared for the draft last year, I’d bet that he almost definitely would have been selected before Kyle Lauletta.
Why the Giants Could Use McSorley
It’s no secret that the New York Giants are lacking in the quarterback department. And it’s also no secret that McSorley is likely not the “quarterback of the future” that Big Blue is looking for. Since Eli Manning has repeatedly been proclaimed this year’s starter, what the Giants need this year is a suitable backup who will be ready to step in with passion; be it in practice or a real moment in the sun. Alex Tanney just signed an extension, and Lauletta hasn’t gotten the Davis Webb treatment yet, but lord knows the days, and plays, are numbered.
A strong runner with Big Ten and Penn State records under his belt, McSorley also shows promise at other positions. This athletic promise would be useful to the Giants both in practices, as well as in games should they take notes from Sean Payton’s playbook and run multi-quarterback plays in the red zone. And let me be clear, EVERYONE should be taking notes from Sean Payton’s playbook. McSorely has the makings to be useful to a young NFL team helmed by a veteran, in the same way that Taysom Hill is productive for the New Orleans Saints.
Morale in East Rutherford HAS to be pretty low right now. Entering his sophomore season, Barkley is the leader of the pack, and the G-Men seeing his long-welded bond with a firecracker like McSorley would without a doubt inspire the crew to a team mentality.
Why McSorley Could Use the Giants
McSorley, in turn, would gain a whole lot throwing passes to Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. The pressure would push him to increase his arm strength and consistency with moving targets. Practicing with his old teammate would challenge him to live up to the NFL-caliber that Saquon is a part of, OR, more likely, show off his own NFL-caliber talents. Not to mention the benefits of mentorship by Manning, which would likely go both ways. Eli would impart his veteran quarterback know-how on McSorley. Trace, in turn, would challenge Manning’s stationary strategy with his mobility and go-getter attitude.
If McSorley spent a year or two on the Giants, he would have the training, drive, and stage on which to succeed as, at minimum, a productive NFL backup. New Jersey may not be his forever home. But the experience would equip him with all the necessary tools to have a well-deserved and profitable professional career.
Last Word on Trace McSorley as a Potential New York Giant
As anyone from Penn State will say, tell Trace he can’t do something, and he will prove you wrong. His stubborn and competitive attitude would be a healthy fit on the Giants as they euthanize and “youthen” their roster.
McSorley’s impaired final campaign heading into this draft is pretty irrelevant on this very capable young man’s resume. His Penn State career rendered so many wows that will stand the test of time in Nittany Lion football history. McSorley’s team-based mentality and leadership qualities alone are unrivaled by most other quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, and those qualities are of higher need than the “quarterback of the future” for the New York Giants right now.
And as for his physical stature? Why don’t you go ask six-foot, 209-pound Drew Brees.
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