Written by: Alexander Amir
When Roger Goodell stepped to the podium and announced the 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, my reaction went something like this:
*silently stares at screen with mouth open*
“This can’t be happening.”
*checks Twitter hoping for a mistake*
“I can’t believe this.”
*Puts phone down and drops head into hands*
Inexplicably, incomprehensibly, the name called with the 6th pick in the draft was Duke QB Daniel Jones.
Josh Allen, the prized edge rusher from Kentucky who arguably has the highest ceiling in this entire draft, incredibly fell to the Giants at 6. In the pre-draft process Giants brass had repeatedly mentioned the need to draft someone who can contribute now, and they had also harped on the idea of improving the defensive front seven. After trading Olivier Vernon to the Browns, edge rusher arguably should have been the priority in this draft given the talent at the position and the lack of talent at QB.
Now let me pause right here and say that I don’t hate Daniel Jones. I really don’t. I think he has the tools to become a solid NFL QB that can make throws in the short and intermediate passing game while also making some plays with his legs, and he has the requisite size for the NFL. I have a problem with his arm strength, which is why I and most others don’t think he can be a top-tier QB in the league. He’s a fine prospect, with a similar skillset to Ryan Tannehill.
But “fine” QB prospects shouldn’t go in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. much less in the top 10, particularly if a team is full of holes, especially if one of the best prospects in the draft at a position of need is in your lap, and even more so if you have two other high picks with which that same QB can be taken.
Nobody had Daniel Jones graded high enough to take him before #17 overall, when the Giants had their other 1st round pick, and probably not even high enough to go in the 1st round at all. I understand feeling the need to “get your guy,” but you need a sense of value when drafting. The Giants could have left the first round with both Josh Allen and Daniel Jones. Or Josh Allen and tackle Andre Dillard, and then Jones with their 2nd rounder.
This whole discussion is also ignoring the fact that Cardinals QB Josh Rosen is now dispensable, and likely could have been acquired for a 2nd round pick. Rosen is so clearly a better prospect than Jones, and he would have cost so, so much less. I’m not going to go more into this because talent evaluators see what they see, but it’s hard for me to imagine Jones becoming better than Rosen.
Maybe the Giants could have made up for it with their later picks. But alas, GM Dave Gettleman made the most Gettleman move possible and drafted Dexter Lawrence, a 340+ pound nose tackle. The Giants had his clone with Damon “Snacks” Harrison last year and traded Snacks for a 5th round pick. This #17 pick was the one they received back in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. So in the end, the Giants traded Snacks and Odell Beckham Jr. for a 5th round pick and someone they hope can be as good as Snacks. Makes sense.
On top of that, look at who else was on the board at #17. Elite pass-blocking tackle Andre Dillard could have finally solidified New York’s offensive line. Jeffery Simmons would have sat out the first half of the season with injury but is just an overall better prospect at Lawrence’s same position. Even a trade down to get Lawrence at a better value would have sufficed.
GIants fans thought the torture was done for the night, but Gettleman had one more questionable surprise in store. He traded picks #37, #132, and #142 to move back up into the first round to draft cornerback Deandre Baker. Not a single corner was off the board at that point, and there was an extremely high likelihood that Baker would fall to the Giants in the 2nd round without them having to trade up. It also seems like Gettleman forgot that he drafted corner Sam Beal in last year’s supplemental draft, who should be ready to go this season after sitting out last year with an injury. Given the holes at wide receiver, right tackle, and edge rusher, I really wish the Giants used their #37 pick on someone like AJ Brown, Dalton Risner, or Chase Winovich. It was unnecessary to trade up for Baker, and it was an unnecessary pick in and of itself.
New York’s 2019 season isn’t salvageable. I don’t think 2020 is either given the number of holes on the roster and Gettleman’s inability to fill them with this year’s early round picks. Barring an unprecedented hit rate in the mid- and late-rounds of this draft, Giants fans will have to endure suffering for at least two more seasons. And if Daniel Jones isn’t the franchise QB that Gettleman says he is, look out: it will be years before we can even sniff a Lombardi Trophy again.