I’ve spent a lot of time since the NFL Draft watching Daniel Jones in an attempt to understand who, why and what the New York Giants are calling the future of their franchise.
Firstly, do you know how many other players were drafted from Duke over the course of the NFL weekend besides Daniel Jones? 0. (Compared with Kyler Murray who had 8 drafted, Haskins also had 8 teammates drafted whilst Drew Lock had 3 teammates drafted).
When we talk about Duke going 8-5, there is only one reason why they ended up with any wins at all and that’s Daniel Jones. He had literally 0 draftable talent around him and still went to a bowl game.
His receiving core was awful, they honestly couldn’t catch a cold if they tried and it’s rumoured they had over 50 drops, which factored into his completion % would raise it to the early 70s percentile.
If we touch on his offensive line it barely allowed him to use slants or passes into the flats. The pocket would hold for approximately 1.5 seconds after the snap, comparable with the average 3.5 second window a QB needs on average to see downfield at an NFL level.
The rest of the team clamoured to earn 16 total team touchdowns on the ground which were spread out between Deon Jackson (7), Brittain Brown (3), Quentin Harris (5) and Nicodem Pierre (1).
When I say Jones had no help I do not mean he didn’t have round one or two talent with him, I meant he quite literally has not one draftable teammate on either side of the ball. There is a reason Duke is known for Basketball over Football.
In many ways, I see a lot of similarities between Eli Manning and Daniel Jones, their overly favoured style of finding the underneath routes in order to mask their below elite arm talent is something that’s consistently served both men well.
The very thing we praise Tom Brady and Drew Brees for is something we’re not even recognising in Jones for the most part.
As I’ve mentioned Jones isn’t Josh Allen or Tyree Jackson and he doesn’t try to be either. He knows how limited his arm is and what he can and cannot do, which makes his lack of a cannon arm less than a real problem.
Just for the record, Jones can make every throw at the NFL level but he’s not going to whip the ball 60 yards down field at 200mph.
The poor line and consistent usage of his dump off routes make the similarities between Manning and Jones even more fascinating.
Neither tends to force the ball downfield much unless they’ve got OBJ demanding it on an every-down basis. If Jones has the opportunity to take the ball and give it to a teammate in space 5 yards downfield then he would rather do that than take a risk, no matter the odds on a riskier ball downfield.
Perhaps you could make the argument that Jones is overly safe with the ball, it’s no secret he would rather take the completion odds over the yardage on every snap. I often see the saying “he won’t win you games but he won’t lose you them either” associated with Daniel Jones and I’ve got to say it’s an incredibly poor description of DJ. Jones wins games in a safe style of play, that’s it, period. I’ll reiterate the fact that Duke picked up a single W last season was entirely down to him.
The positives in Jones’ attitude when it comes to ball security and protecting the rock means he almost always does the right thing with the ball, he was the most reliable QB in college for reducing turnovers and willing to bet he’ll be the most reliable QB in the NFC once Brees has called it a day.
Daniel Jones is as flashy as his name sounds, he is not Mahomes or Mayfield, he will not wow you on a regular basis but he will make you take him for granted. He’s reliable as hell, you know Jones will drive the ball downfield all the time – isn’t that what teammates crave? A QB they can rely on?
Another thing I saw which I’m surprised hasn’t been mentioned much, Jones has wheels. He’s not Cam Newton by any means but he’s learnt to extend plays and pick up short yardage downs whenever it’s been asked of him. It’s more of a last resort for him but he’s not afraid to turn to it.
Using his legs to extend plays has also lead to what I would consider his most unique trait, Jones has a very accurate unorthodox off platform throw, scary accurate in fact. For a team with a below average offensive line, he’s absolutely perfect because he can minimise the problems having a poor line can bring.
Honestly, I think the New York Giants have landed a day 1 ready QB, I don’t believe he’ll start the season but if something were to happen to Eli then I wouldn’t be discouraged to see Jones take his place. He will not do things like Mayfield or Darnold have done but he would also be more reliable than the latter.
Across social media, embedded in traditional media outlets and the focus of every armchair GM centres around big arms and how high a players ceiling is, how good they are in certain schemes, etc. – All very important and plausible conversation topics.
Unfortunately, as Drew Brees is finding out, accuracy, ball security and the ability to drive the ball downfield mean nothing in comparison to huge arms and Superbowl victories. It’s a feeling Jones will grow accustomed to as his career in the NFL begins to grow.
Daniel Jones does not have the potential of Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins, nor does he have the freakish power Buffalo landed with Tyree Jackson but if you’re asking me to guarantee you a quarterback from this class who will most likely be in the NFL in 5 years time it’s the former Duke Blue Devil.