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Valentine’s Views: Time for the Daniel Jones era? Plus, Dave Gettleman’s legacy, and more

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Some thoughts as the draft closes in

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NCAA Football: North Carolina at Duke
Daniel Jones
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this a few days ago, and thought there was enough value to push it back into the discussion.]

The NFL Draft is just hours away. Here are a few things I’m thinking about as we get closer to finding out what the New York Giants will do.

Get ready for Daniel Jones?

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports didn’t say it, but if you connect the dots it’s not hard to believe the team he is talking about is the Giants.

The thought that the Giants could choose Jones as the heir apparent to Manning — perhaps even as early as the sixth overall pick in the draft — horrifies some. If Jones is indeed their guy that should, however, surprise no one.

Jones and the Giants have looked like an obvious match for months. The connection to the Manning family via Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who trained both Eli and Peyton back in the day. The fact that David Morris, backup to and roommate of Eli Manning at Ole Miss, is Jones’ personal quarterback coach. The similarities in temperament. The idea that on the field Jones reminds some of Manning with better mobility.

If Gettleman chooses Jones at either No. 6 or at No. 17 there are plenty of self-made draft analysts and media know-it-alls who will snicker. The narrative will almost certainly include some version of calling him Clueless Dave and proclaiming that his plan must be to make sure the Giants continue to flounder.

Thing is, this is Gettleman’s choice — and his mistake if that’s what it turns out to be — to make.

One of the things I think you have to give credit to Gettleman for is that he thinks for himself.

Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan is one of my favorite draft analysts, and it’s not because I always agree with him. I often don’t. Thing is, Hunt doesn’t do “group think.” When he gives you an opinion you know it’s his and not just some version of what everyone else thinks.

“If you’re going to do this you want to do it your way and not be influenced by others,” Hunt told me during a recent podcast. “At the end of the day if you’re going to do something on your own what’s the purpose of crowd-sourcing or group-thinking with everybody else?

“If you’re going to be wrong, be wrong by yourself.”

That, in a nutshell, is how I see the position Gettleman is in. I’d be willing to bet that Gettleman shares that philosophy with Hunt. I think his actions prove it.

A year ago, he called the idea he had to take a quarterback at No. 2 “hogwash,” said positional value was a “crock” and then did what conventional wisdom said you aren’t supposed to do — he took a running back No. 2 overall.

He keeps defending Eli Manning when analytics, many fans, and — again — those media know-it-alls keep loudly telling him he’s wrong.

He traded Odell Beckham Jr.

So, yes, Gettleman is going to do this his way.

You know what? I’m OK with that. I think you should be, too. Disagree with him, sure. That’s fine. Don’t you want the organization’s ultimate decision-maker, though, to have his own convictions and the courage to follow them? Isn’t that better than being wishy-washy, not being able to make up your mind and simply doing what the group tells you to do?

In your own job isn’t it more satisfying to succeed or fail doing things your way? Following what you believe in? I think it is. You may fail spectacularly. Then again, you may succeed.

If there had been an Internet back in 1979 I can only imagine how badly George Young would have been panned for taking an unknown quarterback out of Morehead State in the first round. The selection of Phil Simms worked out OK.

Ernie Accorsi had the courage of his convictions when he made the move for Eli Manning in 2004.

At the Combine in February Gettleman said “no guts, no glory” when it comes to finding an heir apparent to Manning.

Passing on a quarterback last year took guts. Taking one this year, especially if it’s not the one the majority believes should be the choice, will take guts. Passing on quarterbacks and waiting until 2020, thus putting yourself in the position of having to listen to the wailing about the need for a quarterback of the future, would take guts.

Whatever the results, he has to live with them. He should follow what he thinks is right.

NFL: New York Giants-GM Dave Gettleman Press Conference
Dave Gettleman when he became Giants’ GM.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A difference-making draft

Gettleman can say otherwise, as he did on Thursday when I asked him about the added pressure to get this draft right, but this is a make-or-break draft for the Giants.

All of the moves they have made in recent months pointed to positioning themselves for this draft. They have 12 picks, two in the first round. There is the possibility they will pull the trigger on an heir apparent for Manning. This draft and a 2020 offseason in which the Giants will have oodles of cap space, are the ones that could lift the Giants out of the pit they have fallen into in recent years. Mess it up, it could doom the Giants to also-ran status for the foreseeable future.

Gettleman said on Thursday that “There’s pressure getting it right every year.”

True, but I do think he understands the added weight of this draft. For the Giants and for himself.

Remember what Gettleman said at his introductory press conference after being named GM?

“My plan is to come in here every day and kick ass. That’s my plan, OK? And I’m going to keep doing it until they either take my key card or the Lord calls me home.”

At that point in time, Gettleman might not have seen the finish line. After a battle with lymphoma, though, I think he does.

Gettleman has talked a few times this offseason about retiring to Cape Cod. I don’t recall him talking about that before. I think his health situation made him realize that the Lord will be calling him home sooner rather than later, and that perhaps he would like to spend some time enjoying his family and his health while he can.

Before he does that, you know that he wants to believe he left the Giants franchise in better shape than he found it.

That might be part of the reason he could be tempted to dive into the quarterback pool this year if he has a chance. Maybe there are better options next year, but the Giants might not be in position to take advantage.

Gettleman has said he dreams of finding the Giants a franchise quarterback, and you wonder if he thinks there won’t be many more opportunities for him to do so. This draft could be the one that defines his Giants’ legacy.

“Thick” positions

Forgetting quarterback for the time being, let’s take a look at how Gettleman might attack the draft? If you truly understand how to parse Gettle-Speak, his words Thursday during his pre-draft press conference spoke volumes.

  • He loves the defenders at the top of the class, saying there will be a premier defender available at No. 6 regardless of what else happens. Even if he loves Jones enough to want him with that sixth pick there is likely to be at least one defensive player that gives him pause.
  • Gettleman named linebacker Alec Ogletree and safeties Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea as defenders who have a “dog mentality.” He also said that “I have always been a big believer that if you look at the great defenses, they have a lead dog in every level. A legitimate playmaker at every level of their defense. I said it at the postseason presser and I will say it again, we need some defensive playmakers.” He admitted that “we have to keep adding to that mix” up front. Translation — I’m drafting a big-time defensive lineman/edge player if I can.
  • The “thick” positions, those with solid choices throughout the draft, are offensive tackle, wide receiver and defensive back. Translation — grades being equal early in the draft, those are the positions where you can wait and still get a good player.
  • It “won’t be fun” to sit and watch nearly 60 players come off the board between the Giants’ picks at 37 and 95. Translation — somewhere in there you can bet that I’m using some of the eight Day 3 picks I have to move up.

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