Dave Gettleman initially received criticism for taking Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft April 25, but the Giants general manager's move showed early progress when the rookie quarterback flashed as New York's starter.
The Duke product replaced 16-year veteran starter Eli Manning in Week 3 of the regular season after the Giants' 0-2 start, sparking Sept. 22's 32-31 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and totaling 12 starts.
While the Giants ended the year at 4-12 overall, resulting in Monday's firing of Pat Shurmur after two seasons, Gettleman got Jones right. Still, Gettleman was surprised to see Jones throw for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in 13 games, when speaking Tuesday at his end-of-year press conference.
"We really believed in Daniel -- we didn't know he'd come that fast," Gettleman said of Jones, who added 45 carries for 279 yards and two touchdowns but fumbled 18 times. "Again, you're talking about a kid that played at Duke in the ACC. And, like I said, we had taken him at six -- (but) we just didn't realize he'd come that fast."
Jones suffered a high left ankle sprain in Dec. 1's 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, putting Manning back into the starting role for Dec. 9's 23-17 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and Dec. 15's 36-20 win over the Miami Dolphins.
The space between gave the Giants a send-off for Manning, who now becomes a free agent and is not expected to be back in New York for 2020, with retirement entirely from the NFL a possibility.
On the other side of the equation, Manning embraced being a mentor for Jones, who had the torch passed officially as the Giants' franchise quarterback.
"At the end of the day, it was time, it was time," Gettleman said. "Eli was great with him -- who better to learn from and who better to have his back? Eli's a pro's pro. And a big piece of being the head coach and being the quarterback, the general manager of the New York Giants and speaking with you folks. It's getting the message to our fans. It's a big piece of it. And that's another reason Daniel Jones -- who better for Daniel to learn from than Eli Manning? So ... no, (Manning and I are) fine."
Meanwhile, the jury is out for the other nine picks -- including two more first-rounders -- that Gettleman made in April's draft.
While the Giants uncovered a gem in the fifth round with Auburn wide receiver Darius Slayton, whose 748 yards and eight touchdowns led the team, first-round pick and No. 30 overall selection Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker was among those to struggle.
The Giants also took Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence with the 17th overall pick in the first round, acquiring the spot in the March 12 trade that sent star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns for safety Jabrill Peppers.
"We're not going know about that grade for two years -- two rookies," Gettleman said. "Jabrill's only in his third year. So we're not really going to be able to evaluate that trade in two years. You come back in two years, hopefully I'm standing here, we can have that conversation. I'm being honest -- it's really, you've got to wait. People immediately want -- Roman forum, thumbs up, thumbs down, OK? Right now, we're excited about Dexter Lawrence and (Old Dominion outside linebacker) Oshane (Ximines) and Jabrill."
Time will tell if the other moves fall in line with Gettleman's decision to draft Jones, but the clock is ticking on the Giants' general manager, who is under watchful eye of co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch after Shurmur's termination.
"It all depends upon how quickly the puppies come along," Gettleman said. "We've got a lot of young kids. We led the league in snaps by rookies. And a big part of it is how quickly they come."