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Giants Now (7/7): Victor Cruz expects big things from Daniel Jones; Lemieux the next Seubert?


Victor Cruz: Daniel Jones will become team leader in 2020

Daniel Jones put together an impressive rookie campaign for the Giants.

In 13 games (12 starts), the first-year quarterback completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His 24 touchdown passes led all rookie quarterbacks, while his 3,027 passing yards finished third. Jones added 45 rushes for 279 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and an additional two rushing scores to his final stats.

Jones set several franchise rookie records with his performance last season, including most passing yards, passing touchdowns, highest completion percentage, completions (284), pass attempts (459) and several more. In addition, he became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with three games of four or more passing touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz spoke with NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano about Jones and the steps he must take in 2020 to further his development as a franchise quarterback.

"Just continuing to build on the leadership qualities he already has," Cruz said when asked what comes next in Jones' development. "I think obviously, coming in on another year without Eli Manning being there, he can actually feel like the leader, be himself and start to bring these guys under his leadership. I think that's the biggest thing he has to fulfill this year.

"Yes, the stuff on the field will kind of take care of itself. He'll make the plays, he'll make the decisions that he needs to make, I think, in order to be successful... Daniel Jones, this will be the year where he starts to build his own leadership with his guys."

Earlier this offseason, Manning noted how his retirement should pave the way for Jones to step up as one of the team's leaders this upcoming season.

"I think it will be easier this year for him to kind of step up as that leader,'' Manning said. "Last year was probably awkward for him, me being there, me being in meeting rooms and just kind of the whole dynamic. Me being gone and, hey, he is the quarterback, he is the guy, for him to have that control and the authority over receivers and offensive line."

Shane Lemieux reminds several former Giants of SB Champion Rich Seubert

It is not often that a rookie fifth-round pick is compared to a former Super Bowl Champion, but such is the case with Giants rookie guard Shane Lemieux.

After four consecutive seasons without a missed start and two selections as Second-Team All-Pac-12, Lemieux was taken by the Giants with the 150th overall pick in this year's draft. The team has said that the rookie will compete at both guard spots while also cross-training at center.

According to two legendary Giants offensive linemen, the rookie out of Oregon reminds them of a former Giants teammate on the Super Bowl-winning o-line: Rich Seubert.

"He reminds me so much of Seubert," Shaun O'Hara, currently an NFL Network analyst, told Paul Schwartz of The Post. "He's not the biggest, fastest, strongest, he's not going to wow you with any combine statistic, Pro Day statistic stuff. But when you put on the film, he's finishing guys."

Seubert signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2001. He would go on to spend the next 10 years of his NFL career with Big Blue and was a member of the Super Bowl XLII-winning team. Often praised for his toughness, Seubert overcame a devastating leg injury in 2003 and went on to play six more seasons for the Giants before retiring prior to the 2011 season.

"He's got that mentality of Seubert," said Chris Snee, who studied Lemieux as a scout for the Jaguars this year. "I don't think Richie got enough credit for how quick he was. Richie had some unique short-area quickness that I'm not sure Lemieux has. But same mental makeup. I don't know if he's got as bad hygiene as Richie had."

If Lemieux comes even close to reaching the level of success Seubert had with the franchise, the Giants will be thrilled with the pick.

"If he does remind them of me, hopefully he's a tough-a** player, right?'' Seubert said about the rookie lineman. "And he truly loves the game of football and will run through the wall for his coaches and for his teammates. Hopefully he's better than me, to be honest. He's a tough, gritty football player and if goes in and works hard from the get-go he can be an excellent football player."

View photos of every offensive linemen on the Giants roster.

NFC East takes crown as NFL's top running back division

The NFC East is deep at several different positions, but it would be difficult to find more talent within the division than at the running back position.

According to CBS Sports, the NFC East takes the crown as the league's top running back division.

The Giants' run game is led by Saquon Barkley, who has been nothing short of outstanding over his first two seasons. As a rookie in 2018, the Bronx native played in all 16 games and took 261 carries for 1,307 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns while adding a whopping 91 receptions for 721 yards and another four touchdowns. He was named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year and was also selected to the Pro Bowl.

While a high ankle sprain cost him some time last season, Barkley was still able to rush for 1,003 yards on 217 carries (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in 13 games. He also caught 52 receptions for 438 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

Barkley became the first player in franchise history to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. The running back has garnered a total of nearly 3,500 yards from scrimmage in just 29 career games, averaging almost 120 yards from scrimmage per game in his short career.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been in the NFL four seasons and has twice been selected as an All-Pro after leading the NFL in rushing yards (2016, 2018). Elliott has run for 5,405 yards and 40 touchdowns and has caught 189 passes for 1,619 yards and an additional eight touchdowns since joining the Cowboys in 2016.

In 16 games (11 starts) as a rookie last season, Eagles running back Miles Sanders carried the ball 179 times for 818 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns while adding 50 receptions for 509 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Rookie Team.

Finally, Washington's running back room consists of several talented players. Veteran Adrian Peterson led the team in rushing in 2019 with almost 900 yards and five touchdowns. 2018 second-round pick Derrius Guice saw his first NFL action last season, rushing for 245 yards on 42 carries (5.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in just five games (one start). Washington also drafted Memphis running back Antonio Gibson in the third round of this year's draft.

View photos of Giants running back Saquon Barkley's time with the New York Giants.