We don’t want to stop the presses for every mock draft that is published — if we did, there would be precious little else getting posted here.
But when a draft expert from a major outlet releases a mock draft, we have to pause and take notice. In this case it is NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein’s first mock draft. Not only does Zierlein compile scouting reports on nearly every prospect in a given year’s draft, but given his position at NFL.com, his opinions are very likely informed by a number of contacts around NFL front offices. Much like with other major outlet mock drafts, those potential kernels of behind-the-scenes insight and information should make us take a closer look.
And in this case, Zierlein’s pick is remarkably interesting for the New York Giants.
6. New York Giants - Daniel Jones
School: Duke | Year: Junior (RS) This wouldn’t be my selection if I were making the pick, but the Giants need a young QB to develop behind Eli Manning and Jones’ ties to Duke head coach David Cutcliffe -- Eli’s college coach and mentor -- might be all the Giants need to push Jones over the top on their board as they try to make a smooth transition under center.
Raptor’s Thoughts: If you click through to Zierlein’s complete mock draft, you’ll see why this pick is so interesting for the Giants. Kyler Murray is drafted at fourth overall by the Oakland Raiders, and Zierlein has the Giants passing on Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskings for Jones.
He states that picking Jones “Wouldn’t be my selection if I were making the pick,” which suggests that this isn’t the move he thinks the Giants should make, so much as the one he thinks they will. It is all the more surprising given how Jones’ seemingly depressed his draft stock with a poor performance in front of scouts and general managers in the week of practices before the Senior Bowl. The NFL typically views these practices as more important than the game, and most teams leave before the game even takes place. So while Jones did win the MVP award, conventional wisdom suggests that his poor performance during the week would carry more weight.
Likewise, digging through Jones’ numbers, particularly beyond the box score the context and situations around those numbers, suggests a player who might not translate well to the NFL. He is capable in short range and in the core concepts of Cutcliffe’s offense. But down the field and in more diverse concepts, he struggles mightily.
All told, Jones’ stock has plummeted over the last few days, to the point where few still count him as a first round prospect.
On the other hand, the “warm fuzzy” dots connecting Jones to the Giants are close together and easily connected.
Jones has a good relationship with Eli Manning and with Manning’s mentor, David Cutcliffe. That could lead the Giants to feeling comfortable with the idea that Manning might not take offense at helping to teach, and eventually be supplanted by, Jones. And if there has been one constant through the last 13 months of Giants’ decisions, it is that comfort and familiarity rule the day.
In the unlikely event that Haskins does slip to the Giants, could they pass on him anyway and draft Jones?