Maybe the Giants are all in on quarterback Daniel Jones. If so, this year’s NFL Draft, which begins tonight, April 29, and is being held in Cleveland, Ohio, should reveal much about what areas of the offense the team’s general manager, Dave Gettleman, and head coach, Joe Judge, perceive Jones needs the most help to flourish. Jones, who will turn 24 next month, will be entering his third season when training camp starts this summer. Gettleman, with the blessings of franchise co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, shocked most football aficionados when he selected Jones out of Duke at No. 6 in the first round in 2019.
The jury is still out on Jones after two uneven seasons. He was 3-9 in 12 starts his rookie year after taking over as the starter for the demoted and now retired Eli Manning, and 5-9 in 14 starts last season, missing two games due to injury. The Giants were 4-12 and 6-10 respectively, and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016. Year 3 for Jones will be pivotal in the Giants determining if he is going to be their long-term starter. An affirmative answer dictates they engage in negotiations with Jones and his representatives following the 2021 campaign on a lucrative contract extension which comes with critical salary cap considerations. So surrounding Jones with playmakers and protectors in this draft could be the Giants’ foremost priority.
There is a high probability the Giants will secure a wide receiver or offensive lineman with the No. 11 pick in the first round. However, if an elite defensive prospect such as Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons or University of South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn is there for the taking, they may be too irresistible for the Giants to overlook.
Of course, ploys, intrigue and misinformation always pervade the draft. So it’s possible a team may look to move up to the No. 11 spot for a player they covet and make the Giants an offer hard to refuse. Yet, the more likely scenario is the Giants hold firm and take the highest rated player among the offensive lineman and wide receivers still available.
Last season, they selected left tackle Andrew Thomas from the University of Georgia with the fourth overall pick. While struggling over the early part of the Giants schedule, Thomas gradually improved and has the look of being a solid starter well into this decade. Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater or Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw could fit nicely along the line with Thomas to form a young core to grow with Jones.
The wide receiver position is flush with potential game changers. The consensus best among them, LSU’s Ja’ Marr Chase, will be long gone when the Giants are on the clock, but the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, and his college teammate, Jaylen Waddle, could still be available to upgrade a corps that has lacked a thousand yard receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. registered 1,058 on 77 catches in 2018. The Giants’ signing of former Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay this past March to a four-year, $72-million deal, is no doubt a factor in their ultimate decision.
In addition to No. 11, the Giants also have the 42nd pick (Round 2) and the 76th pick (Round 3) over the first three rounds.