Unfortunately for New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, the negatives of his rookie campaign are remembered more often than the positives.
His 12 interceptions, 38 sacks and an NFL-leading 18 fumbles stick out as defining numbers.
Yet, these statistics hide the positives of Jones’ freshman season, making it easy to forget that the young quarterback also showed potential. According to ESPN, NFL executives rank Jones No. 2 among Year 2 quarterbacks entering 2020.
As the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Jones finished his first season with a 53.6 QBR, which was good for 18th in the league.
Here’s what ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler had to say about Jones, using more specific statistics.
Jones did most of his damage against man coverage last season, throwing 20 of his 24 touchdowns in that situation. While he was inaccurate at times, he ranked ninth in QBR (71.5) against man coverage among the 37 quarterbacks with at least 200 action plays.
Fowler explained why the 53.6 rating does not tell the whole story.
But Jones still finished 18th in QBR at 53.6, and threw for 24 touchdown passes in 12 starts. That last stat is significant. Mayfield’s rookie-record 27 touchdowns came in 13 starts and most of a 14th game in 2018. Peyton Manning and Wilson once shared the record at 26, and each started all 16 games in their first year.
“Watch the way he handles the ball, his fakes, his play-action — there’s a lot of skill there,” an NFC offensive coach told ESPN. “And he’s a tough dude. He had that rep coming out of college. If he takes care of the ball, he’ll make a big jump.”
Injuries to the Giants offense did not help Jones throughout the course of his first season in the league. Running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram both missed significant playing time. Now, with a healthy Barkley and Engram joining Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and breakout star Darius Slayton, Jones is poised for a strong sophomore season.
Fowler pointed out that Jones has more innate athletic talent than people think.
One veteran NFL quarterback tried to call Jones “sneaky athletic,” which was meant as a compliment, but his 4.81 40 time and a 33.5-inch vertical leap say he’s simply athletic.
“Throws the ball well, really smart, big and tall,” the quarterback said. “Giants can work with that.”
In the rankings, Jones was second behind offensive rookie of the year Kyler Murray. The former Blue Devil was ranked above fellow draft picks, Drew Lock, Gardner Minshew II, Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Jarrett Stidham.