Not surprisingly, we have had any number of calls and emails from Giants fans wondering what was our take on last week’s draft, in particular, of course, the selection of former Duke QB Daniel Jones with the 6th pick overall. And rather than try and write the same thing over and over in response to individual queries, we figured it would be more efficient to just post our post-draft thoughts.
Bottom line is, that like most folks out there we were a little disappointed at the Jones pick. Like most, we thought that the Giants had caught a huge break when Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen, who would have addressed the Giants major need other than QB, was still there at #6. And if the Giants were committed to taking Jones, we personally probably would have preferred that they take Allen at #6 and then try and trade back up into the top 10 to get Jones if he was indeed their guy. But that would have meant getting a little cute and opening up the possibility of a team leapfrogging them to get Jones. In the end, the odds were that nobody else in the league was going to do that, but the possibility was always there and one of the cardinal rules of the draft is that because QB is such a pivotal position that if you like one, you don’t mess around, you go get him. Period.
And clearly, Jones was the Giants’ guy. Our take on the whole process is that Gettleman and company essentially asked Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula if there was a QB in this year’s draft class who they really liked to run their offense and Jones was the answer. Remember it was Shurmur and Shula who went to all the top QBs’ pro days and private workouts, not Gettleman who stayed back in New York during the much of the process. In particular, we suspect that Shurmur/Shula weren’t looking so much for a traditional pocket passer in the Eli mold who is asked to hang in the pocket and get the ball down the field, but rather they intend to run a variation of a spread offense in which the QBs main responsibility is to find and distribute the ball to the open man. And in that sense, Jones checks off all the boxes.
Targeting Jones, though, put the Giants a bit between a rock and a hard place. It was unlikely Jones was in the Giants’ top 6 meaning he’d be a reach at that point, but it was also unlikely that Jones was going to slide all the way to 17. However, the fact is that NFL teams overdraft QBs all the time. Indeed, QBs were chosen first overall in 8 of the past 11 drafts; in the same period, QBs accounted for 14 of the 33 players (42%) chosen with either the first, second, or third picks between 2009 and 2019. That distribution just doesn’t happen if teams are in fact factoring QBs into their normal BPA paradigm.
We also received a number of queries, comments etc. about how the Giants could justify bypassing the available QBs in 2018 to take Saquon Barkley, the acknowledged BPA at #2, but passed on Allen, the BPA this year at #6, to take a QB. Our reading of the situation, though, is that the Giants were actually always planning to take a QB at #2 last year, but ultimately passed when they, like apparently most of the rest of the league, soured on the available QBs late in the process last spring. The fact that Barkley was a potential generational talent just made it an easier sell. In contrast, this year they really liked Jones and opted not to mess around, although the fact that he wasn’t as highly rated by the draft guru community has made it a very difficult sell.
In fact, Giants had to know that in taking Jones over the likes of Allen or Ed Oliver, they were going to set off a firestorm of criticism. To which, G.M. Gettleman appears to have stepped up and said “I got this!” Indeed, he’s essentially been spinning the whole thing as fast as he can since Thursday evening. That’s his job and nobody should put too much stock in what he says any more than they’d put too stock in what a politician says during an election cycle.
At the same time, what may have been lost among all the Jones fuss, is that otherwise the Giants had a pretty good draft. In fact, had they taken the more popularly rated Allen or Oliver at #6, we’d likely all be singing A’s right now. In the end, the Giants never did get that elite edge rusher, although third rounder Oshane Ximines has some potential. However, the fact that the Giants did some serious upgrading to the secondary means that DC James Bettcher may still be able to get a whole lot more creative with his blitz packages than he was able to do last year, when the Giants were severely limited in coverage.
In addition, one thing that really jumped out at us regarding this year’s Giants’ draft class is that just about every player the Giants selected is either fast, plays fast, or is both. Indeed, we suspect that improving the Giants team speed was one of the personnel department’s main unstated objectives this year.