The headline from the New York Giants’ draft class wasn’t the fact that they added three likely starters in the first round.
It was the quarterback they took with the first of those picks, a selection that certainly created plenty of conversation around the league.
It wasn’t a surprise that the Giants selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Many mock drafts had the 21-year-old signal caller eventually being taken by Big Blue. The franchise needed to groom a replacement for Eli Manning and Jones — along with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins — were considered the most likely to be selected by general manager Dave Gettleman.
But where the Giants ultimately took Jones, utilizing the sixth pick and not their selection at No. 17 (the Giants also traded late in the first round to obtain the No. 30 pick) was the big surprise.
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 furor from fans and media alike, some NFL insiders are taking a more measured approach to the selection of Jones and are commending Gettleman’s decision to roll the dice.
In analyzing the pick of the three-year starter at Duke, former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum understood the process going into the selection of Jones.
“Anytime you can come away with potentially three starters in any round, that’s quite the draft,” Tannenbaum told me.
“Obviously there’s a lot to like about Daniel Jones, his size, his arm strength, he’s a good athlete. I saw him play live against Miami and for a Duke team to come into Miami and beat them, that’s not something that is done very often. I know a lot has been made about where he went in the draft.
“But if you have conviction about a player, specifically someone who could be a franchise quarterback … if Daniel Jones leads the Giants to the playoffs in two or three years, no one will remember if he was picked sixth or 17th or the third round. A winning quarterback is a winning quarterback. They have a conviction on him.”
While with the Jets, Tannenbaum drafted the likes of cornerback Darrelle Revis, center Nick Mangold, left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, among others. In addition to his time with the Jets, where the organization made consecutive AFC Championship Games utilizing a core group of players he drafted, Tannenbaum was also recently the executive vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins for several seasons.
When asked about the Giants utilizing the sixth pick on Jones when conventional wisdom had him going later in the first round, Tannenbaum didn’t shy away from the Giants’ decision. Having scouted Jones while with the Dolphins, Tannenbaum talked about his assessment of the rookie quarterback.
“He’s bright, football is really important to him,” Tannenbaum said.
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.
“Now they’re dealing from a position of strength. Now whenever they feel like they should pass the platform from Eli to Jones, he has a high football acumen. This will allow him to study and learn the offense.”
The decision to draft Jones so high in the first round is likely one that will be bantered about for the next several seasons. At Duke, Jones led the Blue Devils to consecutive bowl game wins, but never put up gaudy numbers.
The consensus about the pick is that Jones didn’t have a strong supporting cast around him in college, as evidenced by 38 dropped passes last season. There are tools there to be developed and with Manning the incumbent starter, there is no reason to rush the rookie’s development.
“Obviously they have conviction so the fact that they got him makes a lot of sense in terms of this was the guy they wanted,” Tannenbaum said.
“Because of it, they pulled the trigger so I can understand that.”