Don’t let the Daniel Jones pick distract you from the other bad choices the Giants have made.
On April 25, New York Giants general manager David Gettleman made the surprising decision to make the FBS’ 72nd-rated quarterback the sixth-overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. That selection has dominated draft talk in the days since — and that might be a good thing for Gettleman, given the rest of his confusing moves this offseason.
Selecting the Duke passer has focused an already powerful lens on the Giants’ front office as Gettleman has tried to spin his way through the selection of a quarterback who advanced stats suggest may not have been a top-20 draft-eligible player at his position. But that increased scrutiny has also diverted attention from the other head-scratching moves that may doom New York into rebuilding purgatory. As such, the team’s been happy to harp on Jones; the front office hasn’t had one single strategy for deflecting criticism for the selection — it’s had all of them.
The Giants have thrown everything they can think of to defend their top pick, which has provided an all-too-public reveal his former Panthers players were right and Gettleman might just be in over his head. None of these arguments have been particularly compelling and occasionally contradict each other.
In the end, the people Gettleman has been able to sway to his side are:
a) a possibly apocryphal cashier at a bagel place
b) end of list.
The good news is, hey, at least we’re not talking about everything else New York’s screwed up recently, right?
Gettleman justifications for the Jones pick are uneven, lazy, and sometimes weird
When the scrutiny poured in from all angles — even George R.R. Martin got into the action — the general manager just kept digging, hoping the circumference of his problem was small enough to break through to the other side. He won’t, because his reasons for selecting Jones in a year where he could have drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round, waited for Drew Lock in the second, or traded a Day 2 pick to free Josh Rosen from Arizona have been equal parts disastrous and nonsensical.
Gettleman INSISTS two teams would’ve drafted Jones, despite evidence to the contrary
When critics suggested Jones would have been available with the club’s second selection of the first round, No. 17 overall, Gettleman fired back with the unprovable “fact” that two other teams would have snapped up Jones before his pick, which both ESPN and NBC’s Peter King refuted.
Those two teams, ostensibly Washington and Denver, both benefitted immensely from the Giants’ big swing at No. 6. New York’s pass on Haskins helped the Ohio State QB slide to Washington nine spots later. The Broncos, meanwhile, took Drew Lock — a quarterback most rankings slotted higher than Jones — all the way down at No. 42. Both teams earned strong grades for their patience (and, of course, the assist from Gettleman that helped them get there).
Gettleman thinks Eli Manning is still his franchise QB
When the media questioned Jones’ lackluster numbers in college and his pro readiness, Gettleman suggested he could take on a developmental role behind Manning for the next two or three years. When the next logical question became “why would you draft a quarterback who won’t start until 2022 with the sixth-overall pick,” the whole exercise became an ouroboros of shame.
Relying on Manning at this point, especially for three more seasons, is quite a leap. While the veteran’s numbers bounced back toward his early career peak in his first year with head coach Pat Shurmur, he’s also 38 years old and will now be throwing to a lineup without Odell Beckham in it.
Gettleman won’t shut up about how much he loves Jones
Gettleman loves Jones. It’s a word he uses quite often, typically referring to the three-drive span at the Senior Bowl that, apparently, blew away the competition for the No. 6 pick, including a badly needed pass rusher in Josh Allen and a higher-rated quarterback in Haskins.
But that wasn’t the only time he compared his infatuation with the Duke passer to the emotion that can break wars and launch ships:
But if there’s one narrative Gettleman needs to drop more than any other, it’s the one he’s been pushing since draft night: that Jones was great in an exhibition game, ergo he will be great in the NFL.
The Senior Bowl game itself isn’t really football, and the list of Senior Bowl MVPs is … eeehhhhhhh
Gettleman has said Jones’ fate as New York’s hyper-scrutinized top pick of 2019 was sealed over the course of 15 minutes at an exhibition game.
That is an acceptable way for your uncle to declare Jones “his guy” from the couch after Sunday dinner. For an NFL GM to say that is completely bonkers. Here’s why.
The January exhibition is a useful tool for scouts and executives to watch some of college football’s top players face off against each other. A full week of practices under the guidance of former NFL coaches allow prospects to acquit themselves against other elite athletes and state their case for a spot in the early rounds of the draft.
And then the actual game starts, and all that goes out the window.
The actual Senior Bowl is played under a set of rules aimed at reducing injury and allowing offensive players to shine. Or, as Charles McDonald put it, the game itself is fake football.
These rules are extremely conducive to strong passing performances, as indicated by the list of quarterbacks who earned Senior Bowl MVP honors the past two decades.
That’s not an especially encouraging list if you’re a Giants fan. The good (?) news is your team has drafted 40 percent of those guys. The bad news is they traded away the only respectable selection in that bunch (Rivers, though New York made out pretty well in that deal by getting a two-time Super Bowl champion as his replacement).
The average QB rating of the nine MVPs before Jones is 68 — 10 full points lower than Brock Osweiler’s career mark, though Lauletta’s putrid limited-time debut in 2018 (0-5, one interception) drags that number down some. Only three reliable starters have won Senior Bowl MVP this millennium — Rivers, Dak Prescott, and Chad Pennington.
If you dig back further, you get other misses like Cade McNown, Dameyune Craig, Bobby Hoying, and Stan White. This is all to say the Senior Bowl is no indicator of real success, even if you win MVP honors in the process.
And yet, Gettleman only needed three series of Jones’ action to make his draft decision. The Giants proudly tweeted out highlights of their new quarterback’s MVP performance moments after selecting him.
This is probably not something to which the Giants should be admitting so freely. But, then again, it’s not like Jones has a whole bunch of NCAA accomplishments they can point to either.
Jones is only part of Gettleman’s massive rebuilding problem in New York
The upside was this was a valuable smokescreen to distract from the rest of Gettleman’s, uh, questionable decisions. He kicked off the 2019 offseason by allowing safety Landon Collins to leave in free agency with nothing in return but a likely third-round compensatory selection. He doubled-down on that move by shipping Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns in exchange for a package headlined by their first-round pick and talented but inconsistent safety Jabrill Peppers.
It was a similar tact to the one he took as Carolina’s GM, where he hemorrhaged talent with no clear path back to contention until the Panthers fired him.
Then came Jones and, 11 picks later, Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence. He’ll fill the hole opened when Damon Harrison was traded to the Lions for a fifth-round pick.
So, in effect, the Giants turned Beckham, Collins, and Harrison — three All-Pro players in New York — into Lawrence, Peppers, and a tiny piece of first-round pick Deandre Baker since that 142nd pick was part of the package that gave the club its third Day 1 selection. That’s a lot of proven talent going out for some good, but not must-have prospects. Dive in to any of the many post-draft grades floating around, and it’s hard to find anyone optimistic about New York’s haul.
If you’re a Giants fan and were able to read that without getting a spontaneous rage nosebleed, I salute you. But we’re not really talking about those moves right now because, again, the Jones pick was a nightmare. Efficient!
Jones was merely the vinaigrette on top of the shit salad that’s been the Gettleman era in New York. The ousted Panthers general manager has been bold in his moves to make the Giants his own team, and while a rebuild was in store no matter what in northern New Jersey, the path the club has chosen leaves plenty of questions about the future.
Gettleman has shucked aside value in order to chase youth and potential, and it’s left a once-formidable roster filled with unproven players and a bevy of hollow excuses to justify what seem like bizarre decisions.
Gettleman seems to understand the only argument that counts is how his team performs on the field in 2019 and beyond. “In three years,” he told Peter King, “we’ll find out how crazy I am.” Based on his year-plus tenure to date, you’ll have to ask him this question somewhere other than New York.