For the first time in forever (and a few years after it should have happened), the New York Giants have a quarterback of the future. Duke’s Daniel Jones is the anointed successor to Eli Manning, the shiny new model to replace the beaten-up old jalopy who’s running on rims. Orderly succession is the goal of every NFL team and nation-state, and now the Giants finally have the young man who will inherit the franchise. So let’s check in on how the local papers are celebrating this momentous occasion:
Hmm. But, sometimes the tabloids just like to stir things up, you know? Let’s check in with the real fans, the ones willing to sit out in the rain on a Thursday night in a stadium in the middle of nowhere, just so they can be with their fellow Giants fans to welcome the future:
It would be an understatement to say that the selection of Jones with the sixth overall pick is unpopular within New York and puzzling without. This is not entirely Jones’s fault; it is more a result of who Jones is not. Jones is not, for example, Josh Allen, an outside linebacker out of Kentucky with elite pass-rushing abilities, and who was still on the board. Allen went seventh, to Jacksonville. Jones is also not Dwayne Haskins, the cannon-armed signal-caller out of Ohio State who most observers believed was clearly the best quarterback available. Haskins fell to Washington with the 15th pick, and the Skins can’t believe their luck.
The Giants did desperately need a quarterback, but one argument that gains strength from hindsight though doesn’t totally hold up is that they could have had both Allen (who the team later revealed they had on the same line on their draft board as Jones) at No. 6 and Jones, or maybe Haskins, at No. 17. A handful of QB-needy teams in between the Giants’ two picks, including Denver and Miami, passed on taking a passer. But New York had no way of knowing that would happen. If they truly believed Jones was their guy, taking him at six was the only rational thing to do. (The Giants eventually took Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence at 17.)
No, the only real argument against Jones is the perfectly strong (and fairly chalk) argument for Haskins. And the beauty of this what-if scenario, unlike most others, is that we’re likely to get a definitive answer on it, even if the referendum could take years.
Giants GM Dave Gettleman was asked if he had a message for fans upset about the Jones pick. “In time you’ll be very pleased,” Gettleman promised.
Jones and Haskins could not be more different as QBs. Jones is tall and athletic, even a scrambler; Haskins is a pure pocket-passer who could uncharitably be described as “plodding.” Jones has an average arm but gets the ball out quickly and accurately at short range; Haskins has a mortar. Jones was a three-year starter at Duke, where opposing defenses are generally middling; Haskins started a single year at Ohio State, where the competition is higher, and broke all sorts of passing records, but was rarely threatened in the pocket.
Each has things to recommend him and things that could be warnings. And because of the nature of the draft, nobody knows anything for certain, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Jones over Haskins was the wrong choice. But I’d be a little more confident about the Giants’ assessment if not for the ways Jones’s champions are justifying the pick. “He’s a very mature kid,” Gettleman said, before adding that Jones possesses “fiber.” David Cutcliffe, Duke head coach and also Eli Manning’s mentor, stated that “Daniel Jones embraces something we believe in here—real swag is no swag.” Maybe the pick works out! But it’s weird, for now, to hear the form of the praise offered for Jones when most of the arguments by third parties in favor of Haskins were he was and will be a better quarterback.
I’d be a lot more confident about this choice if Gettleman had made literally any successful moves since taking over the Giants. And if he’d stop saying things like this:
“Maybe we’re going to be the Green Bay Model, where Rodgers sat for three years. Who knows?”
Maybe Eli Manning will still be the quarterback long after I’m dead! On draft night, the future is full of possibility.