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5 things we learned at rookie minicamp (5/3)

The draft day suits have been traded for practice jerseys, the hats for helmets, and the parties for playbooks.

Now it’s time to get to work for the Giants’ 2019 draft class and the dozens of undrafted rookies and tryout players. Rookie minicamp is underway with three days of practice on the itinerary. Before Friday’s practice, the rookies met the media inside the fieldhouse. Here is what we learned:

1. Jones wants to win multiple Super Bowls “like Eli has.” Quarterback Daniel Jones, the sixth overall pick out of Duke, had been to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center before this week for his official draft visit, of which each club is allowed to conduct 30 with prospects. But when he arrived Thursday, it was a different feeling in knowing all that comes with being a quarterback for the New York Giants. Especially when much of what he sees are murals of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, whom he will succeed.

“I think the goal is to win Super Bowls,” Jones said. “That is the goal, no doubt about it, to win multiple Super Bowls like Eli has. Mr. Gettleman, Mr. Shurmur, Mr. Mara and Mr. Tisch certainly all expect that. There is no question, the goal is to win Super Bowls. I am looking forward to it.”

After arriving on Thursday, the rookies had meetings Friday morning and conducted their first walk-through with an install. And so begins the digestion of the playbook.

“I think there is certainly a lot to it,” Jones said. “That is an adjustment from the college level. An NFL playbook is generally a little thicker. It is a lot of good stuff. Coach (Pat) Shurmur has been a whole lot of places and the way he has explained it to me is that he has taken pieces from everywhere he has been and has put together his own stuff. To me, that is the best of all the worlds.”

Jones is wearing a red No. 8 jersey for now. His college number was 17, which is currently owned by fellow quarterback Kyle Lauletta. “There were several options,” said Jones, who was also a basketball star in high school. “I think eight is a good number. Old Kobe (Bryant), I guess.”

On the subject of basketball, Jones was also asked about fellow Duke athlete Zion Williamson, who is expected to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Knicks fans hope Williamson follows Jones to the area.

“I have gotten to know him a little bit,” Jones said. “We talked a little bit about that actually this week. That would be a cool deal. We will see what happens. He is a special guy.”

2. Lawrence thinks his pass-rush ability is underrated. When you measure 6-foot-4 and 342 pounds as a defensive lineman, you get labeled as a run-stuffer. But the Giants envision Dexter Lawrence as more than a two-down player. He can push the pocket, opening up pass-rush opportunities for either himself or a teammate coming off the edge.

“Definitely underrated,” Lawrence said about that aspect of his game. “It’s kind of on me to prove myself, right, because I know who I am and to prove others wrong. I’ve always been able to collapse the pocket. Now I’m focused on escaping blocks or finishing the plays and things like that.”

Lawrence said he had circled four teams as possible landing spots, including the Giants. Once they obtained the No. 17 pick in the trade with the Browns, it became an even greater possibility.

“Going through the process, I had a feeling I would probably go to four teams, that were really good on me,” Lawrence said. “When they got another first round pick, I said OK that’s a little more promising because all the talk, talking about picking a quarterback and stuff like that. So when they made that trade, I smiled a little bit more and I just so happened to be that pick.”

He added: “My agent was talking, he’s a little conservative, so he was talking a little down towards the end of the (first round of the) draft. But I knew who I was, I knew what kind of player I was. I’m in the best spot.”

3. Baker a good fit for Bettcher’s defense. Cornerback DeAndre Baker is out to show the Giants didn’t make a mistake by trading up into the first round to draft him. Self-described as confident and fearless, Baker thinks his skills will translate well to what defensive coordinator James Bettcher wants to do. Baker was one of three cornerbacks drafted last week and one of seven total defensive players taken.

“It’ll translate well,” Baker said. “I can adapt to whatever scheme we play, and we play a lot of press. So, it’ll be great for me to show what I can do and help my team.”

Baker added: “It’s a lot of man-coverage. That’s what I excel in. I can do a lot of things to help the team in man coverage when I get the opportunities. That’s what I like the most about the playbook.”

4. X-man is keeping the nickname as he makes leap from ODU to NFL. As the Giants tried their darnedest to cut through the pandemonium on the other end of the phone line at Oshane Ximines’ draft night party at his mother’s house in Suffolk, Va., Patrick Hanscomb, an area scout who was first on the call, gave him a nickname – and it’s sticking. Amid the cheering, coach Pat Shurmur echoed it and called the outside linebacker “X-Man.” Ximines, who was born in Queens, grew up in North Carolina, but still has family in New York, said today that was the first time someone used that nickname.

“I love the nickname actually, and I hope to keep that going,” he said. “On the draft day phone call, that’s the first time I heard X-man. It kind of surfaced on the internet and it got a few of my friends back home calling me that now and I just feel like it’s going to keep going in the right direction.”

He will also try to keep up his college production. But there is major leap from Old Dominion to the NFL.

“It is a pretty big jump coming from Old Dominion to the bigger stage, like we never had any of this,” said Xinimes, the first player in school history to be drafted to the NFL. “It’s something to get used to, but you’ve got to take everything one day at a time just like I do everything else in life. I just plan to do that.”

5. Lawrence looks to live up to Giants’ D-line history. Like Ximines, Lawrence grew up a Giants fan watching defensive linemen like Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and fellow Giants Ring of Honor inductees Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. That’s the standard the Giants are trying to get back to in Year 2 of the new regime. Lawrence is used to it coming from Clemson, which had four defensive linemen drafted this year alone.

“Kind of coming here gave me a little more motivation because the standard is here,” Lawrence said. “So, you got to try to beat that standard or be better than that standard. That is one of my goals as I’m here: break the standard. All these great defensive linemen that came through here and did their thing. My thing is it always starts upfront. Let’s make the back seven and all their jobs easy.”

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