Darnay Holmes leans on Hall of Famers Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson as mentors
Giants fourth round pick Darnay Holmes has plenty of football influences to lean on as he enters his rookie season. His father, Darick, was a running back in the NFL for 4+ years, while his older brother, Darick Jr., was a wide receiver at the University of Arizona. But if the first-year corner wants to look outside the family for advice, he has a few Hall of Famers he can call on.
Holmes listed Pro Football Hall of Famers Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson and Aenas Williams as his mentors following the 2020 NFL Draft.
Holmes attended Sanders' Prime21 camp in 2015, where he ended up taking home the DB MVP award. He met Williams back in 2016 when the Hall of Famer served as his coach at Nike's The Opening, and the two worked together again a few months ago at the Senior Bowl. Holmes met Woodson through UCLA defensive back Quentin Lake, the son of former Steelers teammate Carnell Lake.
Holmes was the 12th cornerback taken in this year's draft, but all three legendary players agree that the Giants got great value in snagging him with the 110th pick.
"He might be the sleeper [defensive back] in the draft," Woodson said recently in an interview with ESPN. "I know he was taken in the fourth round. But I like his mindset. No coach can measure one's heart and one's mind until you start playing. I think when I've seen him playing and talked to Carnell and his son, just the way he moves and how fluid he is and has that recall during the games when people are doing stuff to him that makes you kind of excited to watch a player like that."
Holmes impressed Williams with his performance when he was coming out of high school, and the two have maintained a relationship ever since.
"I was thinking in the back of my mind, a team is going to get a steal," Williams told ESPN this week. "I didn't know when or where he was going to go, but I know he has a lot more value than where he was drafted. I can tell you that."
Sanders has not kept his thoughts on Holmes a secret. During his combine workout in March, the Hall of Fame DB constantly praised the corner, and even said Holmes was the best he had seen in the speed-turn drill that year.
"He looked flawless," Sanders said. "Was unbelievable."
View photos of former UCLA CB Darnay Holmes.
Chris Simms 'blown away' by Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones had a solid first season in the NFL. Jones led all rookies with 24 passing touchdowns while completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 3,027 yards.
Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, who now serves as an NBC Sports analyst and radio host, went so far as to call Jones "phenomenal" in his first NFL season.
"I was blown away by Daniel Jones," Simms told NJ.com. "It was good to see (coach) Joe Judge start talking about him (earlier this offseason) and saying 'everybody's gotta compete for a job'. But, no, no: Daniel Jones doesn't have to compete against anyone on that team or on that roster. Anyone who is on that roster, I can just tell you: He's better than them. Daniel Jones, he was the MVP of the Giants last year, to me. It's not even close."
In six starts spanning across Weeks 8-16, the first-year QB averaged nearly 265 passing yards per game with 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions, earning a passer rating of 99.2. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones didn't throw any interceptions while under pressure and accumulated the 12th-most yards in those situations.
"He's got a more powerful arm than I gave him credit for coming out of college," Simms said. "He throws a perfect spiral every throw, so the ball cuts through the elements. It's easy for receivers to catch. The other thing too is that he's a good athlete."
Eli's advice for quarterbacks during pandemic
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offseason programs for every team across the league have been altered drastically. Teams have been forced to hold all of their meetings virtually while players have been unable to practice together at their respective training facilities.
The league has never dealt with something quite like the situation surrounding the coronavirus before. However, some players are familiar with the inability to use the practice facility in order to train with teammates. Peyton Manning chatted with NBC Sports' Peter King and discussed a Zoom call he recently did with Eli about the current situation.
Eli had some good advice for quarterbacks trying to stay sharp during these unprecedented times, based off his experience during the NFL's 2011 lockout.
"I did a Zoom call with Eli for a buddy, an investment banker," Peyton Manning said. "It was a Q&A. Someone asked your question—how would you handle this situation as a quarterback? Eli talked about during the NFL lockout—nobody makes any comparisons to what's going on right now—but, the NFL lockout was somewhat similar in the fact that it was truly a lockdown. Couldn't talk to the coaches. Couldn't go into the facilities. Maybe even tougher because you couldn't have communication with the coaches.
"Eli talked about organizing their own workouts and taking some ownership. Eli got practice scripts, like blitz walk-through drawings, diagrams, he got practice jerseys, he organized workouts at a high school. He was kind of the head coach/coordinator and they were doing full routes and doing 7 on 7 and blitzes at practice. He was really thorough. Sure enough, they were in the Super Bowl that year. They beat the Patriots."
Peyton went on to say that he's had conversations on Zoom with the quarterbacks from several teams this offseason, including the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears. He shared Eli's message with each one of them.
"That was kinda my message, sort of, you know, follow Eli's lead," Peyton said. "Quarterbacks, take ownership. All these Zoom meetings, right now, the coaches are leading them. My message was to the quarterbacks. 'Hey, organize your own Zoom meetings without the coaches, just get you and the tight ends, you and the receivers.' It's actually an opportunity to even have better communication. Because there's nothing else to do, right? Hey, every Tuesday, 9 a.m., quarterbacks and the offensive line, Zoom, watching film. Instead of complaining about it, see it as an opportunity to really improve. There's no reason you shouldn't have every play from last year studied down to the T. ... I think the team that wins it all this year is gonna be the team that's really getting an edge during this time—kind of like the Giants in 2011."