The Giants’ selection of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft came as a surprise to some, but general manager Dave Gettleman was convinced that he was the right choice. And No. 6 was the right place to take him. Gettleman’s quotes from his post-draft press conferences contain all the answers Giants fans should need regarding those questions.
Gettleman was asked on Thursday night why he didn’t wait until pick 17 for Jones, and he said he was not willing to risk that Jones would still be available. On Saturday at the conclusion of the draft, he added, “It wasn't easy for me to pass up (Kentucky edge rusher) Josh Allen. For me, my background, that was very, very difficult. But I think that much of Daniel Jones and his future as an NFL quarterback.”
Gettleman was specifically asked about the team’s grade on Jones versus Allen on Thursday night. “First of all, it is legal for guys to have the same grade,” he said. “So when we set up our horizontal, they were on the same line.”
Given Gettleman’s history of selecting defensive players in the front seven who can affect the quarterback and his constant refrain that a team “cannot reach for a quarterback” speaks volumes. He passed on a quarterback in the 2018 draft for the very reason that Saquon Barkley was graded as a significantly better player than anyone else available.
Gettleman was asked at his pre-draft press conference whether taking a quarterback was a priority. “The priority is to select the best players,” he said. “Last year, we could not pass up on Saquon. He was the best player in the draft. You can’t do that.”
There’s no question that drafting a player like Josh Allen would have had a more immediate impact on the 2019 Giants as an addition to the team’s pass rush than Jones, who will start the season sitting behind Eli Manning. As the Giants try to build their roster back up while remaining competitive, it is a balance Gettleman must constantly strike.
“That's why I always say, I'm on a tightrope,” Gettleman said. “I've got to think short-term, and I've got to think long-term. That's the box I'm in. That's the position I'm in. Coaches have to win now, and I ask myself -- I've told you guys a million times, I ask myself that question, am I giving Pat and the guys enough players to win with, okay. And really, it's tough.”
It is a similar decision that Ernie Accorsi faced in 2004, when he drafted Eli Manning instead of adding an impact player to a team that already had an effective quarterback in Kerry Collins. The long-term benefit of finding the next franchise quarterback for the team was not lost on Gettleman when he spoke at the NFL combine in February.
“I have one of the best consiglieres of all time,” he said. “I talk to Ernie all the time and what Ernie did for the Giants, it would be a dream for me to do the same thing.”
Despite how draft media analysts might have graded Jones, the Giants had him rated high enough to be worthy of the sixth overall pick in the draft. In their eyes, the pick was not a reach. “It’s a wonderful thing when need and value match,” Gettleman said. “We are thrilled to get Daniel. He was up there with everybody else on our board in terms of value and he was just perfect for us.”
There is no price too high to pay to acquire a true franchise quarterback. No one cares the Giants gave up two first-round picks (one of which was Philip Rivers), a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Manning because he turned into a future Hall of Famer. It will be no different for Daniel Jones. No one will care if he was picked sixth overall if he has a successful career.