Dave Gettleman’s legacy with the New York Giants will likely be defined by what he did with the sixth pick in Thursday night’s NFL Draft.
Even as the team made three selections in the first round, the direction of Gettleman’s tenure with the Giants, and the franchise’s fate for the next decade, is tied to the selection of quarterback Daniel Jones.
There was a surprise when the Giants took Jones so early in the draft, despite the former Duke standout being considered the consensus top quarterback of this draft class after Kyler Murray. The thought was that Josh Allen, the Kentucky defensive end and a former New Jersey high school football star, could be had with the sixth pick. The Giants, after all, needed an edge rusher and Allen, who won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player last year, certainly fit the bill.
Watch exclusive footage of the Giants calling Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and informing that he would be selected sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Gettleman did what Gettleman does and stuck to his draft board. The pick at first blush seemed risky since Jones was not considered a top-10 pick. But the Giants landed a quarterback they hope to build their franchise on, and their general manager argued that a true evaluation of the player goes beyond his somewhat ordinary college statistics.
“I just thought his pocket presence and his poise were really important to me. I’ve been saying it for a long time: if you can’t consistently make plays from the pocket, you’re not going to make it in the NFL,” Gettleman said during a press conference following the conclusion of the first round.
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones speaks with Bob Papa, Carl Banks and David Diehl after being selected by the Giants with the sixth pick overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“You’ll be just another guy. You look at Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, they consistently make plays from the pocket. That’s what this kid can do, and he is not by any stretch of the imagination an average athlete. He’s a really good athlete. This kid can extend, make plays with his feet, buy time in the pocket. He’s got feel. He really has all the things you’re looking for.”
From the outside looking in, the risk seems clear. Gettleman, despite the surprise behind the pick, termed the selection of Jones as a time “when need and value match.”
The Giants didn’t become an overnight playoff team following Thursday’s first round. In fact, they may not be a markedly better team than last season. But just because the selection of Jones wasn’t popular, doesn’t mean it can’t work.
Bob Papa, Carl Banks and David Diehl give their immediate reactions to the Giants' selection of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Despite the hand-wringing, Jones did have a very good college career. He is accurate and cerebral and a winner, having taken Duke to consecutive bowl victories the past two seasons.
His numbers may not jump off the page but were quite solid, including over 2,600 passing and 22 touchdowns with nine interceptions. They are, however, skewed a bit. His wide receivers had 38 drops last year, a staggeringly high number.
If that number is cut in half, then Jones’ completion percentage jumps five percentage points.
He also played for a Duke team that unlike Murray’s Oklahoma or Dwayne Haskins’ Ohio State isn’t exactly a juggernaut in college football.
The Giants were impressed with Jones’ college tape and then his performance at the Senior Bowl.
“For me, I think when you watch him play, you can’t just look at the raw numbers and say this guy can do it or can’t do it. There’s reasons why a ball is complete or incomplete,” head coach Pat Shurmur said. “ I thought he was very productive, I thought he was competitive and gritty, and he helped his team win football games. It’s not a fair comparison sometimes, so you have to watch the player compete and work with what he has. I thought he did a heck of a job leading the Duke football team.”