No one knows for sure if Daniel Jones will be the next Eli Manning or the next Dave Brown. No one is sure whether the Giants' drafted him far too high, or if they were right that he wouldn't have lasted all the way to No. 17.
The only thing that's certain about Jones right now is that the Giants had a strong conviction that the 21-year-old was the right guy to be their future "face of the franchise" and a worthy successor to Manning's throne. They felt so strongly about him that they weren't willing to mess around and tempt fate. They took him the first chance they got, with the sixth overall pick.
And good for them. That's exactly what they're supposed to do.
Maybe history will show they got it wrong. Maybe it'll prove they found the next great quarterback. But one thing history has shown over and over again is that teams have to be aggressive with the most important position in sports. If a team doesn't have a quarterback, they really have nothing. They are in "quarterback hell", as Giants GM Dave Gettleman likes to say.
The Giants were approaching that quickly, with a 38-year-old quarterback showing signs of a decline and entering the final year of what likely will be his final contract with the Giants. The time was now for the Giants to do something.
The time was not for sitting around and waiting for a quarterback to come to them.
Actually, Gettleman had made it pretty clear he wouldn't. He spoke a lot in recent weeks about his "dream" of finding a franchise quarterback. He also made it clear, back at the NFL scouting combine two months ago, that he believed "history will tell you, if you do your studies … all the great QBs went early."
Not all of them, of course. There is a history of late-round gems like Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. But the percentages of finding those are remarkably low. Searching in later rounds for a "face of the franchise" can lead to too many years of Ryan Nassibs, Davis Webbs and Kyle Laulettas. Or it could lead to years of starting the likes of Kent Graham and Danny Kanell.
The first round is where the best quarterbacks are found, and that is becoming more and more true as scouting gets more and more sophisticated. It's also true that, with the surge of spread offenses in college, really elite, pro-ready quarterbacks are getting harder and harder to find.
That's why, in recent years, so many teams have used the "no guts, no glory" approach that Gettleman promised he'd use and have traded up for quarterbacks in the first round. Last year alone, teams traded up for four of the five quarterbacks taken in the first round -- Sam Darnold (the Jets at 3), Josh Allen (the Bills at 7), Josh Rosen (the Cardinals at 10) and Lamar Jackson (the Ravens at 32). One year earlier, the Bears (Mitch Trubisky at 2), Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes at 10) and Houston Texans (DeShaun Watson at 12) all did it. And in 2016, the Rams and Eagles had to move up to take Jared Goff and Carson Wentz 1-2.
There's a reason for that trend. Teams want to be proactive with quarterbacks. They don't want to sit and wait around until their current starter is done. They also realize the uncertainty. Saying, "Wait until next year" is nice, but there's no guarantee any team will be in position to draft an elite quarterback in the future. Also, from year to year, sometimes the status of those elite quarterbacks change. A quarterback they love now could see his stock plummet by the time the 2020 draft rolls around.
That's why Gettleman, when asked if he considered waiting until his second first-round pick, at No. 17, to take Jones, he said, "I was not willing to risk it." As SNY reported, the Giants were concerned that the Washington Redskins wanted Jones. They were even worried Washington was trying to trade up ahead of them to draft Jones in the top five. And one NFL source said the Denver Broncos were eying Jones, too, which would explain why shortly after the Giants took him off the board, the Broncos swapped picks with the Steelers and were willing to drop from 10 to 20 in the first round.
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Like it or not, Gettleman was "in full-blown love" with Jones, and had been since the Senior Bowl in late January. Coach Pat Shurmur loved him too, and so did many other decision makers in the organization. Those that were unsure at first, according to a team source, came around the more they saw how passionate Gettleman was about him in the end.
It reminded some of former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi's "obsession" with Manning back in 2004. Accorsi began hoping and plotting to land Manning about five months before the draft. When the Giants ended up with the fourth pick that year, he was relentless in trying to make a trade. Not everyone in the organization was sold at the time. Some believed the Giants should stay put and draft Ben Roethlisberger, and that the price for Manning was too high to pay.
But Accorsi had a conviction. To him no move was too bold for a franchise quarterback, no price too high.
"I just believe that you can get by if you have to, but if you have a chance to pick what you think is a quarterback for the ages, you have to go after him," he told me years later. "Because you're not going to get that many opportunities in your life."
Or, to put it another way, as Accorsi did: "You can't give up too much for (John) Elway. You can't overpay (Joe) DiMaggio."
Is Jones an Elway or a DiMaggio? Right now, no one can possibly know. And as unpopular as this move seems right now to Giants fans … well, Eli Manning was a pretty unpopular New York quarterback once, too.
Maybe Gettleman is right about Jones. Maybe he's not. But he strongly believes he has found his Eli Manning. He also knows the old adage that "fortune favors the bold." So criticize him for the player he picked, but don't criticize him for where he picked him. A quarterback is too important. Teams can't just afford to sit around and wait and hope that one falls from the sky.
Gettleman didn't. He made a bold, legacy-defining move that he is convinced will set the Giants up for a decade of success. It's hard not to at least admire him for acting on that.