Some people go to Paris to find love. Dave Gettleman went to Mobile, Alabama.
That's where, at the 2019 Senior Bowl, the Giants general manager fell head over heels for Daniel Jones. "I was in full bloom love," Gettleman said the night he drafted the Duke quarterback sixth overall. It was in reference to the annual college all-star game, from which he had returned three months earlier with a firsthand scouting report.
Gettleman, of course, knew of Jones before then and had watched him on tape. But he was about to make the most important decision of his career. He had to fulfill one of his objectives: draft Eli Manning's successor.
Typically at the Senior Bowl, the week leading up to the actual game is when the real work is done. There are three days of practices, which are scheduled around weigh-ins, psychological testing and club interviews. As a result, game day is somewhat anticlimactic. In fact, a good portion of the coaches and scouts have already left town before kickoff at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Last year was different.
"I loved him on film. I absolutely loved him. I loved everything about him," Gettleman said. "And then I went to the Senior Bowl and I watched him that week and I (had) decided to stay for the game. During the season, I had gone to see Dwayne (Haskins) at Ohio State, I had seen Kyler (Murray) and Will (Grier) play each other on that Friday night game (on) Thanksgiving weekend in West Virginia, so I had seen those two play each other. I saw Dwayne play in the Big (Ten) championship game in Indianapolis, so I've seen those three guys play and to me it's really important to see quarterbacks play.
"Watching them on tape is one thing, seeing them in the environment is definitely, I think, very important. Saw Drew (Lock), Daniel, Jarrett Stidham, (Gardner) Minshew, (Trace) McSorley, all of these guys were at the Senior Bowl, so I decided to stay. I made up my mind that I was staying for the game and, frankly, he walked out there and I saw a professional quarterback after the three series that I watched. I saw a professional quarterback."
With his North Team down, 9-3, Jones took over for McSorley late in the first half. He mounted the comeback in the third quarter, running in a short touchdown and throwing another from 19 yards out to Andy Isabella, a second-round pick by Arizona. The North Team, coached by Jon Gruden and his Raiders staff (the South was led by Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers), took the lead for the first time and never lost it en route to a 34-24 victory.
"I learned a lot and that's something I wanted to accomplish," Jones, who was the first of 10 first-round draft choices from last year's Senior Bowl, said after the game. "There were some bumps here and there, but I think everyone kind of went through that trying to learn a new system in a new place with a new team. Hopefully I showed the ability to learn and keep progressing and play my best on Saturday."
Jones was named MVP, and now he plays on Sundays.
Photos of Daniel Jones competing at the 2019 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama