EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones’ throwing arm was one of the primary attributes that prompted the Giants to select him in the first round of the NFL Draft, but it’s the young quarterback’s legs that have received much attention at the team’s rookie minicamp this week.
It’s not that Jones has dazzling speed. But he is mobile in the pocket, can extend plays, and throws well on the move, qualities that will help him succeed in Pat Shurmur’s offense.
“You have to have all the traits and be able to do all the things a quarterback needs to,” Shurmur said today. “When you find a guy that is mobile, that is really special, in my mind. He is a really good decision maker. That is critical for quarterbacks. You have to be a really good decision maker and have a sense of timing. Whatever that sense of timing is, whether you have to get the ball out or decide to run. You have to be an accurate passer. I really believe you have to be able to move. There has to be mobility. Whether you are moving around in the pocket, scrambling, you have to be able to move. He can do that. Then, arm strength. If you don’t have the first few, arm strength means nothing, in my mind. He has arm strength as well.”
In his three seasons at Duke, Jones proved he can thrive on the move. Many of his 52 touchdown passes were thrown after he evaded rushing defenders. And he ran for 1,323 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on 406 carries, the longest a 68-yarder.
Jones is confident of his physical skills, so his focus in this camp is learning the Giants’ playbook, which is thicker and more complex than what he had in college.
“It’s been manageable, but it’s all new stuff for everyone,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a challenge just to learn the verbiage and the way everything is called, the way everything is structured in the offense. I thought it was a good amount for the first day and we kind of got an equal amount the second.”
The rookies will practice tomorrow morning before departing for a week. Those under contract will return on Monday, May 13 to begin working with the rest of the team. That’s when Jones and Co. will get their first opportunity to digest the entire offensive scheme.
“When he comes back here, he will get it all,” Shurmur said. “This weekend we will just give him a portion of it. The important thing this weekend also is for the guys to be able to come out and get enough scheme where they can still function and we can see them and their movement skills. That is important, too. We have all been doing this long enough where you go to rookie minicamps and it doesn’t even look like football. Balls are on the ground and it is hard to evaluate the players. We have given him a lot of schemes, but I think it is important to run a camp here where you can see everyone function and see what they can do.”
Jones will return next week to Duke, where much of his time will be on his iPad, studying the Giants’ offense.
“Coming back the week after next, it will with the veterans, and obviously you will be expected to be on that page,” he said. “I have a whole lot to do next week for sure.
“I’m going to try to learn as much as I possibly can. It’s tough without being on the field necessarily in 11 on 11 football, but if he (Shurmur) expects me to do it I will make sure I do my best to do it.”
*NFL teams have different philosophies on indoctrinating rookies after the draft. Some have rookie minicamps two weeks afterward and then keep the young players on site. Shurmur prefers to hold a rookie camp and give the new players a week to recharge and learn on their own, and then bring them back.
“What happens is this weekend we give them a certain amount of scheme,” Shurmur said. “We see how they function - here is your locker, here is your helmet, here are the meeting rooms. This is how we move around. They get oriented on that. We will be able to give them their iPads and all the materials. Then they go away, and we will be able to monitor how well they look at this stuff. When they come back, we can coach them up on how they can do it better.”
*This is a rookie minicamp, but the team’s most senior player is still frequently mentioned. Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback this year, but Jones’ selection at No. 6 overall makes him the heir apparent.
Shurmur was asked about Manning’s response to the Giants choosing a quarterback in the first round.
“He has had no response,” Shurmur said. “I will say this again. I have never been around a person that can stay in the moment better than Eli. That is something that is really unique about him. He is staying in the moment and training to have a terrific season. He looks really good out here throwing, moving and doing all the things necessary. It is his second year in the system, so he knows what we are doing. Better than some of the people teaching him.”