Daniel Jones and the Pick Heard 'Round the World
“With the sixth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select Daniel Jones, quarterback, Duke.” Immediately following this announcement by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, it seemed as if the football world went insane. Giants fansites and Twitter pages lit up with frustrated and baffled football fans, and Big Blue quickly became a laughingstock. The Giants had passed up on a star defensive end, Kentucky’s Josh Allen, for a quarterback from a basketball school who was widely projected to be available to the Giants for a later pick. The two questions on everyone’s mind were simple: who was the Giants’ supposed quarterback of the future, and was he worth his draft spot?
Born Daniel Stephen Jones III on May 27, 1997 in Charlotte, North Carolina, the #6 pick played his high school football at Charlotte Latin High School. Despite throwing for nearly triple-digit touchdowns in his high school career, Jones was not heavily recruited and committed to Duke University. Jones won the starting job after redshirting his freshman year at Duke, when entrenched starter Thomas Sirk suffered a season-ending injury. In Sirk’s relief, Jones threw for 2,836 yards, sixteen touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games. Jones retained the starting job for his redshirt sophomore and junior years, and in the latter, he had his best season, finishing with twenty-two touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a 17-19 career record at Duke. He then participated in the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl, leading the North team to victory and winning MVP.
The night that Daniel Jones was drafted will not be one that Giants fans will ever forget. The crowd that had gathered was shocked and stunned, and doubts and bust labels had come pouring out just ten minutes after the pick was announced. A quote later surfaced from Baker Mayfield, the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, saying that the Giants pick “blows my mind.”
However, Jones would set out to prove his naysayers wrong. The signs were there that he could succeed — he had a good rookie mini camp in May, was solid at training camp in July, and did, in fact, blow people’s minds in the preseason, but in a positive way. He threw for 416 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Jones was expected to sit behind Eli Manning, the longtime starter, but the young rookie would get his chance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.
After Eli Manning’s poor start to the season, Jones got his first start in Tampa in an exciting game. Jones was simply extraordinary for his first game, throwing for 336 yards and two touchdowns while running for 28 yards and another two scores, including the game-winning touchdown. And although his ensuing season has not been as extraordinary as his debut, Jones has become the only rookie QB in NFL history to have four games with over 300 passing yards, two touchdown passes, and no interceptions, with the other games coming against the Jets, Lions, and Redskins. The Giants are unquestionably a bad team at 4-12, and they have struggled with a subpar offensive line and a secondary known for slip-ups. However, “Danny Dimes” shone with a strong arm, accumulating 3,027 yards and twenty-four touchdowns to only twelve interceptions.
New York sports fans labeling a draft pick a “bust” and getting all up in arms is not a new occurrence. But I will say that, to this point, Daniel Jones has gone a long way to proving many of his haters wrong this season. Although he has had ball security problems, fumbling the ball away eleven times so far, that flaw can be fixed. Jones has shown off his arm strength, natural talent, and awareness. Jones is proving that he can overcome adversity, all the while going a long way to becoming the franchise quarterback for the Giants.