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NFL Draft grades: Draft analysts pan Giants’ selection of Daniel Jones

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The first round report cards do not look good

NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The grades are in for Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and let’s just say if drafting players was a class the Giants would have to retake it. The consensus from most draft analysts was not supportive of the Giants’ selection of Daniel Jones sixth overall. While no F’s were given, the range of D grades for Jones is not a good sign for a future franchise quarterback. It’s way too early to tell how accurate these grades will be, but here is what the draft experts had to say about the Giants moves from last night.

Grading all 32 picks in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft | SB Nation

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Grade: D-

Look. Here’s what to like about this pick. The Giants get their successor to Eli Manning with Jones, a quarterback who had practically zero NFL talent around him at Duke. Jones throws a decent deep ball and has solid athleticism. But this is a reach. A huge one. Most thought this pick would happen at No. 17, not No. 6. Unless the Giants were convinced a team like Washington or Miami would take Jones they probably could have gotten him later.

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Grade: C+

Instead of taking a pass rusher, the Giants took a powerful nose tackle in Lawrence. While Ferrell and Wilkins got most of the attention on Clemson’s line, Lawrence was the one eating up blocks letting them beat single blockers. What’s odd about this pick is that the Giants shouldn’t have had to make it. In October nose tackle Damon Harrison — one of the best players at his position in the NFL — was traded for just a fifth-round pick. That makes this choice strange. It’s nothing against Lawrence. He’s a good player. This is more about how the Giants are constructing their roster.

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

Grade: B-

The Giants made a jump back into the first round to take the first cornerback off the board in Baker. But is he best cornerback in the draft? From an aggression standpoint and scheme versatility, that argument can be made. Of New York’s three first-round picks, this is the best one.

2019 NFL Draft: Grades and analysis for every first-round pick | CBS Sports

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

I wanted to give this pick an ‘F.’ I like Daniel Jones, but I just don’t like him in this spot. They must have gotten intelligence that another team was going to take him before 17. I like him, but not at No. 6. It’s a strange pick this early.

Grade: D

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

The Giants wanted to come away with one big guy, whether it be a defensive lineman or an offensive lineman and a quarterback in the first round. Gettleman is doing exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted to get a big, massive man on the line and he did just that.

Grade: B

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

I like it. Here’s the thing on Baker. Early in the process I had a GM tell me he was going to be the first cornerback taken and I didn’t believe him. The kid comes with a swagger. He’s a South Florida corner. South Florida corners come into the league with a swagger.

Grade: B+

NFL Draft 2019 Grades: Analysis of Every Team’s Round 1 Pick | SI.com

QB DANIEL JONES

Only two first-round quarterbacks since 2005 have sat and learned from the bench their entire rookie year before becoming a franchise QB: Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Daniel Jones has much less raw talent than either of those two. But, like the man—or ManNING—Jones will soon replace, he thrives with clean pocket mechanics and traditional execution. Also like Manning, Jones’s game must be predicated on shrewd pre-snap reads, as he didn’t make a lot of late-in-the-progression throws or second-reaction plays at Duke.

GRADE: C+

DT DEXTER LAWRENCE

This one is surprising because the Giants did not NEED a defensive tackle. Last year’s third-round pick, B.J. Hill, is a star in the making, and 2017 second-rounder Dalvin Tomlinson is quietly on a similar plane. Those two can play 3-technique (between the guard and tackle) or 5-technique (over the tackle) on base downs, with Lawrence occupying the middle as a nose. But that package will only be usable about 20 snaps a game. A few top edge rushers were still on the board, as were all of the defensive backs. Giants GM Dave Gettleman believes in stocking up on D-linemen, but defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who runs a pressure-heavy scheme, can only play with so many at once. And that pressure-heavy scheme can’t work if New York doesn’t have corners and safeties who can cover one-on-one.

GRADE: D+

CB DEANDRE BAKER

Finally, a player who fills an immediate need for the Giants. The candidates at the left corner spot opposite Janoris Jenkins (who might be a cap casualty in 2020 if he doesn’t play with more consistency) were fringe backup Tony Lippett, who has played in only three games since tearing his Achilles in training camp of 2017, or Sam Beal, a third-round pick in last year’s supplemental draft who missed his entire rookie year with a shoulder injury. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher believes in blitzing, either through the A gaps or off the slot (depending on his personnel). You can’t readily do that without playing one-on-one coverage outside. Bettcher’s pressure-heavy approach puts him in that quarter of NFL defensive schemers for whom a corner is a necessity while an edge rusher is almost just a luxury.

NFL Draft 2019: Round 1 Grades for Every Pick | Bleacher Report

Daniel Jones, Quarterback, Duke

I really liked Jones entering the predraft process, but he was very up and down at the Senior Bowl and didn’t blow me away in combine throwing sessions. He’ll max out as a mid-tier starter like Derek Carr or Andy Dalton. But there’s a high risk he will be one of those backups who bounces around the league for 10 years because teams love “safe” backups.

Ultimately, Jones is the perfect quarterback for the Giants because the Giants don’t want to replace Eli. They want an excuse not to replace Eli—a quarterback just good enough to make it look like he presents a challenge without presenting a challenge. Jones is that guy.

But at least he’s a quarterback.

Grade: C-

Dexter Lawrence, Defensive Tackle, Clemson

Lawrence went through stretches in which he was the first lineman off the ball at the snap, used a powerful punch to toss blockers aside, shoved pass protectors back into the quarterback and dragged double-teams aside so Clelin Ferrell or another teammate could stunt inside him. He looked like Williams or the young Poe on those plays. But there were also long stretches in which Lawrence was just a big space-eater. That’s the kind of player best selected in the fifth round.

This may not be a great pick. But it’s a very Gettleman/Giants/old-school pick. And Lawrence, selected with the first-round pick acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, weighs almost as much as two Beckhams. Does that count for anything?

No. It doesn’t. But let’s be charitable.

Grade: C

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

Baker was a two-year starter and a three-year regular in the SEC. He has all the cornerback tools—quickness, long speed, closing speed, good hips and feet, adequate size—and excels at getting position on his receiver to contest catches. He has the physicality for press coverage but gets washed out too often in run support, allowing receivers to carry him 20 yards downfield on sweeps to his side.

Baker is a safe pick. He can start in the NFL and cover most receivers. Plus, the Giants have almost no one at cornerback other than Janoris Jenkins, so trading up to take arguably the best cornerback on the board was, by far, the most logical thing they have done all night.

Grade: A-

2019 NFL Draft: Day 1 quick-snap grades for all 32 teams | NFL.com

Draft pick: Duke QB Daniel Jones (No. 6 overall); Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence (No. 17 overall); Georgia CB Deandre Baker (No. 30 overall)

Day 1 grade: B

Draft analysis: I mentioned Jones as a sensible replacement for Eli Manning back in November. The QB possesses a lot of positive traits, and it was time for the Giants to find a successor for Manning. However, many people do not believe Jones is an elite prospect, so the value of the pick will be questioned until he proves otherwise. They received an extra first-rounder in the trade of Odell Beckham to the Browns, and they selected Lawrence, a massive defensive tackle, with the pick. If he shows the ability to push the pocket as well as provide a wall inside, he’ll be a major success. GM David Gettleman moved back into Round 1 to pick Baker, the top prospect at a position of need, giving up two Saturday picks (which they had a lot of) in the deal.