When Should the New York Giants Consider Looking for Eli Manning's Successor?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 30:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game  at MetLife Stadium on December 30, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

I suggested on Monday that if the New York Giants could go back in time with 20/20 hindsight intact, they'd be smart to select Russell Wilson late in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. 

It's not that I don't believe in Eli Manning, because I do. I think Manning's one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the game and he only turned 32 earlier this month. He's in his prime and he's a proven winner. 

My point was just that we now have proof Wilson can succeed in this league as a starting quarterback and might even have the ability to become a star very soon. I figured the Giants could have a great backup plan if something were to happen to Manning, but also a successor for him several years down the road.

Several commenters disagreed (surprise!), arguing that using a second-round pick on a quarterback who won't likely start for half a decade is silly. I'll admit they have a point, too, but keep in mind that I was considering the hindsight at play in my "redraft."

The whole thing got me thinking about quarterback successors in general. Considering how critical the quarterback position is in this league, I firmly believe that teams have to start mining for their next franchise pivots well before their current quarterbacks begin to decline. It's possible Manning lasts six or seven more years, but he could begin to wear out in two or three. Injuries happen, too. Just look at Eli's brother in Indianapolis

Bill Walsh gave up a second- and a fourth-round pick for Steve Young when Joe Montana was just 30 years old. Ted Thompson used a first-round pick on Aaron Rodgers despite the fact a 35-year-old Brett Favre was coming off of a 4,000-yard season. Those two successors spent a combined seven seasons as heir apparent backups.

Two years after Montana left, the 49ers were Super Bowl champions again. Three years after Favre left, the Packers won another championship. Neither team had to rebuild. 

There's a chance the Giants get lucky when Manning's time is up and land an Andrew Luck like Indianapolis did at the end of Peyton's reign. But we've received proof that it doesn't hurt potential stud quarterbacks to sit and learn for three or four years. And so with that in mind, I wonder if it's nearly time for the Giants to start thinking about potential heirs to the quarterback throne. 

What do you guys think?