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How Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning will shape the Giants’ draft decisions

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Who the Giants pick on draft day depends on their two biggest stars’ future with the team.

Detroit Lions v New York Giant Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb was in with the Giants last week. Chubb was solid in chalk talk. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was in with the Giants on Monday. Mayfield displayed the spirit that defines him.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley visited on Monday, too. The Giants were struck by his congeniality and humbleness. Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat joined Mayfield and Barkely. Sweat was a hefty presence.

On Tuesday Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, Miami running back Mark Walton and Texas El-Paso guard Will Hernandez arrive. On Wednesday its UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, Georgia running back Sony Michel, Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd and Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edwards.

It is a waltz of vivid talent befitting a team with the No. 2 overall draft selection. This Giants draft will help serve as a fresh swathe of paint in hopes of ridding the stench of a 3-13 season.

New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur’s approach is significant.

He is telling these collegiate players that if the Giants draft them, they will become a part of something special. He has told Eli Manning he believes he can still play. He has embraced Odell Beckham Jr. He is telling his team in its first group meetings this week that he wants them to “hear it, learn it, do it together.”

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has called Shurmur “an adult.”

Safety Landon Collins describes Shurmur as “very stern, very serious.”

Shurmur said on Monday: “I can see as I start to look out of my window now the grass is starting to green up.”

He is telling the Giants to leave last year, to leave 3-13, out of the building.

He is telling them they will be a good football team.

He is not too high, not too low. He is dispensing calm, confidence.

The Giants need it.

This re-do for Manning is remarkable.

Had ex-Giants coach Ben McAdoo simply pulled Manning at halftime from the final few games rather than asked Manning to go along, the current script might be different. Had Manning not balked once asked – and you can find a few respected football people around the league who find it unsettling that Manning had the juice to simply refuse to play along – the fallout could be reversed.

As is, Manning’s fan base created an uproar. Giants owner John Mara caved, though Mara initially was all in for the plan and for especially getting a peek at Geno Smith, who Mara thought was slinging it around interestingly in practice. McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired in-season (that still resonates with all involved, not the firings, but the uncharacteristic Giants in-season axing). Manning is now re-booted, re-born.

The old Giants leadership showed their hand to Manning and he reshuffled the deck and created a new stack. They had a plan. He had a better one.

These are instrumental lessons learned as the Giants deal with Beckham.

He showed up on Monday for the team’s first gathering even though some in the organization think he primarily did it because his and Manning’s lucrative Dunkin Donuts contract preferred it. The Giants believe that Beckham will rehab his injury primarily with them and will report to later camps. Those are risky assumptions.

The Giants must sign him.

Or trade him.

If they let the Beckham spectacle roll forward into their offseason work, you can toss aside all of the calm, confidence, and green grass. They have never quite been able to wrap their arms and heads around the star power he possess and the lightning bolts he naturally shoots. This is the time to do that. Give him a new contract and a give him a sense of peace. Or trade him for the ranch, if possible.

The Giants cannot roll out a weak plan.

And be trumped by a Beckham script-flipping plan.

Here are some of the draft thoughts percolating among the Giants:

  • Sign Beckham. If the Cleveland Browns take Barkley at No. 1, draft a quarterback, likely USC’s Sam Darnold, especially since the Giants would have the top choice among the quarterbacks.
  • Trade Beckham. Then draft Barkley and create the most effective firepower for Manning and this offense possible, minus Beckham.
  • Sign Beckham. Manning must have him to thrive. The offense must have him to thrive. Then draft the No. 1 impact player left on the board, regardless of position.
  • Trade Beckham. Use the new picks to color this roster offensively and defensively with an infusion of fresh talent.

This is clear for the Giants — Beckham and the draft are intertwined. One begets the other.

If the Giants wait until draft day to deal with Beckham, there will be a swirl of emotion and perspectives at odds in their draft room. And I am told by a Giants chief executive when asked if Beckham is staying or going: “Honestly, it’s 50-50.”

The Giants are selecting in their highest draft position in nearly 40 years. This is among the Giants most defining historical moments.

Manning said there is no point in speculating. He said he will simply wait to see what happens on draft night.

For the Giants, plenty must happen well before then.

A plan created that has some teeth that cannot easily be usurped.

A sprint to greener grass.