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NFL Draft

Should The Giants Draft A Top-3 QB In 2021?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 15, 2020
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The New York Giants were met with a lot of ruckus when they decided to select former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It was a decision that was made with the vision of the team's future mirroring that of the past—a quarterback schooled by David Cutcliffe heading up the passing attack—but this surely wasn't what general manager Dave Gettleman had in mind. 

Jones has indeed taken the reins from Eli Manning, but he's echoed plenty of Manning early on in his young career—just all the wrong parts. It’s not the clutch gene version of Manning or the red-hot, unstoppable streaky version of him. It’s the version of Manning that thrice led the NFL in interceptions and saw just one winning season over his final seven years in New York.

Jones is frustrating to watch because, like Manning, the talent is obvious. The results, on the other hand, are maddening. Jones is 3-14 in 17 career starts. After a promising level of production as a rookie, Jones has flopped out the gate and logged five interceptions to just two touchdown passes (and none since Week 1). There's been little to no progress in his development as a player. While there's definitely plenty of blame to lie at the feet of the Giants for their direction and the murky vision they seem to hold from a management and team-building perspective, none of that context really matters when you're measuring up the qualifications of a top-10 overall pick at quarterback.

Jones hasn't been good. He's flashed plenty, but 31 turnovers to just 28 touchdowns and 54 sacks in 17 career starts (18 total games played) paints quite the picture. With the Giants facing a potential regime change (again) this offseason and the prospect of a top pick appearing inevitable as the team sits as one of three winless NFL franchises entering Week 6, New York will be faced with a difficult task: double down on the potential of Jones or admit the venture as a sunk cost and start over.

For the Giants, it very well may depend on who is available just as much as it does what Jones shows the rest of the way. Which opportunities would prompt a change? Let's take a look.

Daniel Jones vs. Trevor Lawrence

Do we really need to explore this? Yes. The answer is absolutely, positively, unequivocally yes. If the Giants' season flounders to the point of futility and they finish with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, there is no decision to be made. The Giants should absolutely draft Trevor Lawrence (with new management), push the reset button, and write off their sunk cost of the pick used on Jones as necessary collateral to land the best quarterback prospect on this side of Andrew Luck.

Lawrence makes the decision easy with such a strong start to his 2020 campaign at Clemson too. He's currently playing inspired football and leaving little to no doubt about his qualifications as a top prospect. Jones has potential, but there's not a single thing he does better than Lawrence. As a result, this proposition would be a no-brainer for the Giants.

Daniel Jones vs. Justin Fields

This is where things do get a little interesting. Justin Fields plays in a very different style of offense from the one we saw Jones commandeer at Duke. Fields' passing attack at Ohio State is more of a true spread, but that also isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fields has a live arm; his baseball background is apparent and allows him to sling the ball all over the field from all sorts of angles with success, not dissimilar to how Kyler Murray (as an example) is able to drop his arm slot and throw around defenders or throw with velocity on the move. It's electric to watch, and that is probably the deciding factor for me: I would absolutely draft Fields to upgrade over Jones.

Fields has yet to take a snap this season but so long as he plays to the standard he set in 2019, he's a clear and obvious upgrade for his skill in accuracy and ability to create plays as a runner. Jones is an athlete and has beaten man coverage with his legs in the past, but he's a much lesser manager of the pocket than Fields. Fields will be guilty of dropping his eyes when he feels the rush and is prone to flushing out the pocket, but that's better than the alternative in Jones, which is to not feel the rush at all. It’s that lack of awareness that’s a big reason why Jones has rolled up 54 sacks and 14 fumbles lost in his young career.

Fields doesn't have those issues; he's an equal or better athlete and he's got better accuracy. This feels like a straightforward decision for me.

Daniel Jones vs. Trey Lance

If I were the Giants, this would be the toughest assessment to make. If New York is outside the top-three picks and presumably out of striking distance for Fields or Lawrence, then it must take a long, hard look at what it has in Jones and be honest about his ceiling; because in the case of both of the former two quarterbacks, a clear upgrade was there to be had. And when any upgrade opportunity presents itself, it is an easy call to make. Trey Lance can be much better than Jones. But with where he's at right now, it almost feels like a lateral move at best to transition away from Jones and draft Lance. Lance is a redshirt sophomore with a very slim number of pass attempts under his belt at the FCS level. He may be the most physically talented of the three quarterbacks—it’s close—but he's far and away the most raw; and the Giants already have a physically gifted, raw passer on their hands in Jones.

The problem? The Giants have shown little to no ability to develop him through his first 18 NFL games. So, why would the team double down on the position for another player that must be nurtured and developed? If New York wants to develop a quarterback, it’d be better off developing the one it has and subsequently using its draft assets to build around him instead of replacing him. If this situation isn't enough to draw average play out of Jones, it certainly is going to be strong enough to develop a potential starter in Lance.

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