EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - There were boos on draft night when the Giants picked Daniel Jones sixth overall, and he was booed when he threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium a few weeks later. He was considered a reach pick by many, a symbol of a desperate, lost franchise, and proof that their embattled general manager didn't have a clue.
All that, though, was coming from outside of the NFL.
Inside the NFL, Jones -- and the Giants' decision to pick him as high as they did -- was viewed a heck of a lot better than that.
"He had a lot of sponsors throughout the league. People thought he was going to be a good player," said Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout and current analyst with NFL Network. "Teams said he's got a lot of ability and thought he got unfairly beat up through the process."
"I got that sense as well," added former NFL quarterback Jim Miller, host of 'Movin' the Chains' on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "In terms of league coaches and GMs around the NFL, they liked Daniel Jones every bit as much as the Giants did."
That may be hard for fans and some members of the media to believe, but it's a sentiment echoed by multiple sources around the NFL in conversations with SNY. Heading into the NFL draft back in April, it was clear that Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was going to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 1, but there was no clear consensus on who should be the next quarterback off the board.
Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins and Missouri's Drew Lock both had strong supporters. But so did Jones.
In fact, multiple sources confirmed that several teams considered Jones the next best quarterback in the draft and some considered him a Top-10 pick -- a fact which would seem to confirm the Giants' belief that Jones would not have still been available for them to select with their second first round draft pick -- 17th overall. The Giants believed that the Denver Broncos (at 10) and the Washington Redskins (at 15) were poised to take Jones, and that another team might try to jump up and grab him too.
It's impossible to know for sure whether that would have happened. But two pre-draft polls of NFL general managers - one taken by SiriusXM NFL radio and one by NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly -- strongly suggest Jones was unlikely to get out of the Top 15.
"Every GM had it listed differently," said Miller, who conducted the poll with his co-host, former NFL executive Pat Kirwan. "For some on the list, Kyler Murray was 1. For others on the list, Dwayne Haskins was 1.
"But there were teams that had Daniel Jones as their No. 1."
"Murray was No. 1 (in my poll)," Casserly added. "But Jones and Haskins were basically tied at 2. Flip of the coin. And that's from talking to 25 teams. Twenty-five teams told me is that it was a dead heat."
So when the Giants took Jones at 6, it may have caused fans to scream in agony and throw things at their TVs, and it may have caused the media to tear in to Gettleman, but few around the NFL considered it a "reach".
"I'm sure some teams thought it was high, but nobody thought it was crazy," said one NFC executive. "We all liked this kid. He's not an all-time great prospect, but he's a good one. And (the Giants) needed a quarterback, too. It made perfect sense. I don't understand the hits (Gettleman) is taking."
"Look, if you have a need at that position and you like a guy, you don't play roulette and hope he's there at 17 when you're picking 6," Jeremiah added. "If you take a quarterback at 6 or 17 and you miss, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs anyway. So you might as well take the one you really want, rather than let someone else make that decision for you."
The Giants, of course, seemed to know all that, which has only infuriated their critics who remain upset with the pick. Eyes seem to roll every time Giants coach Pat Shurmur says that Jones has "exceeded expectations" or that "We really haven't seen anything that he can't do." It even sounded arrogant when camp opened and Shurmur said "We had more of the information about Daniel Jones than some of the people that covered him. We're less surprised about things than maybe some other people are."
But he's right.
"This kid has talent," said an NFC scout. "He's got a good-enough arm, all the intangibles, and the perfect temperament for New York. Fans who saw a couple of highlights and listened to some (person) on the radio may think this was a terrible pick. But no one around the league does."
"I think he will be a starter in the league," said Jeremiah, who ranked him as the 32nd best player in the draft. "He's got a shot to be a solid, steady player. I didn't peg him as somebody that had the upside to be a Top 5, maybe not even a Top 10. But he's somebody that if you build the right team around him, he's a Top 10-15 quarterback and you can win a bunch of games."
None of that is to suggest Jones is a flawless prospect or that people around the NFL think he's destined for greatness. In fact, there does seem to be one consistent issue people around the NFL seem to have with him: He does everything good, but nothing that's necessarily great. Murray had the elite athleticism that made him a unique weapon. Haskins and Lock had cannon arms that made scouts drool.
Jones was a lot like a young Eli Manning during his days at Ole Miss - solid, but not necessarily spectacular in any particular way.
"I don't think he has just one elite, rare trait," Jeremiah said. "He's got great size but he doesn't have an overpowering arm. He's a really good athlete, but he's not uniquely special in that area. And personality-wise, he doesn't have that take-over-the-room charisma that some guys have had, like a Baker Mayfield. So nothing jumps out at you that way."
"I saw Jones as having the best vision and anticipation of anybody in the draft," Casserly said. "But Haskins gave you the cannon arm to make the 'Wow' throw. My biggest question when I saw (Jones) live at the (Senior Bowl) was arm strength. But people who've seen him more than I have said 'The arm is fine.'"
Of course, a "fine" arm, no "elite" traits and no skill that jumps out at you is exactly why so many outside the NFL thought he was a reach at No. 6. But again, enough teams seemed to like enough about Jones, that it would've been a big risk for the Giants to wait.
"I agree with Dave Gettleman, if they don't take him as high as they did, I don't think he's there (at 17)," Miller said. "There's no guarantee that other teams leapfrog and say 'Hey, he just made it through the Giants, let's get up there ahead of the Giants (next pick). Hey, look what happened to Arizona (in 2017). They wanted Patrick Mahomes, then Kansas CIty jumps all the way up from 24 into the Top 10 and then you're left holding the bag. That happens too many times in the NFL."
"You can't mess around with the quarterback," said the NFC executive. "If you like him, take him. We all understand that."
Inside the NFL, sure they do. Outside the NFL, especially in New York, the selection of Jones remains a lightning rod for a fan base that seems conflicted. There were constant cries the last few years for the Giants to replace Manning. Then they draft his replacement, and the cries became about how they drafted the wrong guy at the wrong spot.
An outstanding spring and a strong start to the summer won't be enough to quiet them, either. Remember, when the Giants traded up for Manning in 2004 the deal was relatively well-received by the fan base, but four years into his career there were still many who were trying to run him out of town.
So for some, it won't matter that NFL people believe Jones will be a successful NFL quarterback until he actually becomes one.
"The criticism of this pick is incredible," the scout said. "No one thinks it was a big mistake. I don't know what the fans are thinking. What did he do to deserve getting booed?"
"Look, they booed Donovan McNabb (in Philadelphia) and they booed Mario Williams (in Houston), and both of them turned out pretty good," Casserly added. "So getting booed isn't a bad thing now. You don't want to be booed about three years into this, but getting booed at draft time? That's not all bad."