New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman knows you aren’t happy today. He knows you think he screwed up, landed the Giants in “Quarterback Hell” and doomed them to being miserable for the foreseeable future by selecting Daniel Jones on Thursday night with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“In time, you’ll be very pleased.”
Gettleman has gambled his legacy as GM, and more importantly the success or failure of the Giants over the next several seasons on a wildly unpopular idea.
No one should be surprised that Gettleman would buck popular opinion. This is the same man who drafted Saquon Barkley a year ago when the NFL world said he had to take a quarterback at No. 2. The same man who has continued with Eli Manning. The same man who traded Odell Beckham Jr.
As he said at the Combine “no guts, no glory.”
Gettleman certainly has guts. Will he get the glory? Will he be able to retire some time down the road, sit in a nice ocean side home on Cape Cod, turn on his television set on game days and watch Jones lead the Giants to victories, and ultimately championships?
In a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for Jones, quarterback analyst Mark Schofield said the move “has the potential to work” if the Giants handle his development properly, but that it “might end up failing” if the Giants ask too much too soon or don’t put him in a scheme that emphasizes the things he does well.
Here’s my plea:
Give the kid a chance
I know you’re angry. I know many of you think Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock would have been a better choice. Or Sam Darnold a year ago. Or that the Giants should have taken Kentucky EDGE rusher Josh Allen at No. 6 and tried to get Jones with the 17th pick. I know many of you fear this will be Dave Brown 2.0, simply because both quarterbacks played for Duke.
Full disclosure: I had the “Giants draft Jones at No. 6” post pre-written and ready to publish days ago because, as I had indicated in other posts, I fully bought the idea that the Giants thought enough of Jones to make that move. Yet, with the Giants on the clock, I was also putting the finishing touches on a “Giants select Allen at No. 6” post.
I was ready to push “publish” on either post.
To be honest, the scenario that unfolded at No. 6 is the one that I anticipated would perhaps push the Giants away from selecting Jones or another quarterback in that spot. My expectation was that the presence of either Allen or Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams would prove to be too much value for Gettleman and the Giants to pass up.
That, obviously, turned out not to be the case.
So, Eli Manning is your quarterback for 2019 and Jones, a guy some consider to be Manning 2.0, will likely be the guy once Manning is done.
Get past your anger. Root for the kid to succeed. If you’re a fan of the “team” you can certainly think Gettleman is wrong. Way wrong. Off his rocker wrong. You should, however, want Jones to end up proving him right. Just like you should want Gettleman to end up being right that Manning can still play winning football in 2019, or that the Giants will end up better off for having sent Beckham packing.
Some have already decided that Jones is a bust. Despite the fact that he hasn’t so much as set foot on a professional practice field for rookie camp. Some will be pre-disposed to booing the young man as soon as they see him step on the field, or most certainly when he makes a bad throw, a bone-headed play or has a bad game.
That emotion or pre-disposition is understandable. If you truly want the Giants to succeed, though, you will keep an open mind and give the kid an opportunity to win you over.
I don’t know if this will end up being a success or a spectacular failure. I have my doubts, and I have always wondered if Gettleman — who has never before had to select a franchise quarterback — could properly identify one.
Maybe he has done that here. Maybe he messed this up. What I will give him credit for, as I have in other instances, is for having a conviction and following it.
As a fan, all you can do is hope that he is right and you do end up “very pleased” with the decision.
“Full bloom love”
During his post-Round 1 media availability Thursday night, Gettleman left little doubt that Jones was his guy.
“I loved him on film. I absolutely loved him. I loved everything about him. And then I went to the Senior Bowl and I watched him that week and I (had) decided to stay for the game,” Gettleman said. “I made up my mind that I was staying for the game and, frankly, he walked out there and I saw a professional quarterback after the three series that I watched, I saw a professional quarterback. I was in full bloom love.”
Gettleman, at one time or another, watched all of the top-tier quarterbacks in person. He admitted, though, that Jones had been his target “for a while.”
He knows there are critics who believe he could have gotten Jones had he waited until the 17th pick.
“You never know,” he said. “I was not willing to risk it.”
While Internet analysts loved Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock, the information I had was that roughly half the teams in the league had Jones ranked as the draft’s No. 2 quarterback behind Kyler Murray. So, perhaps Gettleman was right that he would have lost his guy had he chosen to wait.
Gettleman will end up on Cape Cod one day. Whether that’s a forced retirement or a GM choosing when and how to exit will have a great deal to do with whether he is right about this quarterback decision. This, to be honest, is the most important decision of Gettleman’s career.
From the moment he was hired, we knew Gettleman’s legacy would be defined by the player he chose to follow Manning. For better or worse, he has made that choice now.
“It’s a wonderful thing when need and value match. We are thrilled to get Daniel (Jones). He was up there with everybody else on our board in terms of value and he was just perfect for us. I really believe in this kid. I really believe he is going to be a really nice, quality quarterback for us, for our franchise,” Gettleman said Thursday night. “He’s the right kid for us. He’s just the right guy.”
The Jones-Giants connection has been obvious for months. Coached by David Cutcliffe, at Duke, the same man who mentored both Eli and Peyton Manning as young quarterbacks. The similar low-key demeanor to Manning. A similar skill set, albeit with better mobility.
Gettleman admitted that the Cutcliffe connection was “a nice piece” of the decision.
“Cutcliffe, he’s a hell of a coach. He didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday,” Gettleman said. “The kid has been well trained.”
During his pre-draft press conference last week, I asked Gettleman if he thought there were any Super Bowl-caliber quarterbacks in this draft class. At the time, he said there were “a couple.” Pretty apparent that by that he meant “Daniel Jones.”
Thursday night, Gettleman circled back around to the Super Bowl idea when discussing Jones.
“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. You’ll be just another guy. You look at Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, they consistently make plays from the pocket,” Gettleman said. “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.”
Agree or disagree, the choice is made. The future path is cast. All you can do now is wait and see if Gettleman has chosen the right road.