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NFL Draft

Is 2021 A Make-Or-Break Season For Daniel Jones?

  • The Draft Network
  • March 24, 2021
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The New York Giants enter 2021 in a precarious spot. Quarterback and former thought-upon franchise reviver Daniel Jones looks to be on his last straw, and so does general manager Dave Gettleman. For a team in the hunt for a division title just months ago, it’s a riveting scenario as you begin to peel back the layers.

Put aside the names in Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shephard, and the focus begins to turn toward its root function, as a clear player to blame has begun to develop in one of the richest sports markets on the globe: Jones.

Overdrafting was an issue of the NFL past. The likes of Akili Smith, Tim Couch, and more recent blunders in Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, and Dwayne Haskins have represented an ever-present shadow of uncertainty when you go under the microscope in studying Jones’ game.

Jones entered the league to the common eye simply as “Eli Manning’s replacement.” His talent by no means was eye-popping in Durham, and many speculated about his overall projection as an NFL starter in the days leading up to the 2019 draft. He was in some ways a mystery man, an ACC product who “flashed” exquisite arm talent laced with average mobility skills. 

His biggest trait: football IQ. And conversely, following his selection, many questioned the same trait of Gettleman. 

So now, as we enter phase two of NFL free agency and look at New York as a whole in 2021, the talent is there, the pieces are present, and there are zero excuses left for Jones to prove he belongs under center for the Giants.

In just the last couple of seasons, the oft-criticized Gettleman has used valuable assets, both via the draft and free agency, to build around Jones. Barkley, albeit a pre-Jones selection, has offered the quarterback an out, when healthy, to carry the load of the offense—a notion to his selection at No. 2 overall at the tail end of Manning’s career who would provide a safety valve for whoever was under center for New York in the coming seasons. Furthermore, Andrew Thomas, one of the top linemen in an embarrassingly deep tackle class in 2020 was the name called at No. 4 to protect Jones’ blindside. The necessary moves for value have been addressed by Gettleman, and he hopes his final piece to his transactional puzzle came to completion just days ago.

Enter Kenny Golladay, the arguable prize of the offseason at the receiver position who now presents the WR1 target Jones simply has not had since the departure of Odell Beckham Jr.

Make no mistake, Shepherd, Engram, and Darius Slayton have developed into nice options on the outside and in-line, but the presence of a healthy Golladay, who’s trumped the 1,000-yard milestone twice in just four career seasons, has Jones with a slew of pass catchers to choose from this fall.

"Every team needs playmakers, let's be honest," Gettleman said

"Lord willing, Saquon will be 100% and obviously he'll make a huge difference. ... And, oh, by the way, we're not playing until September, so we've got free agency, and we've got the draft, and we'll see how it plays out. It's not like we don't realize what we need, but, again, at the end of the day it's also about adding really good players."

Both offensively, and defensively, the Giants have done exactly that so far this offseason. They signed Kyle Rudolph to present two-tight-end sets that offer increased offensive versatility. Devontae Booker, an RB2 who will offer a nice change of pace in the backfield with Wayne Gallman now exploring free agency, will provide Barkley a sustainable replacement who can work out of the backfield. On defense, they re-signed interior anchor Leonard Williams, a must following the departure of Dalvin Tomlinson, while adding ball-hawking corner Adoree’ Jackson to pair with James Bradberry. Additionally, the signing of Reggie Ragland within the second-level solidifies one of the top defenses in the NFC East.

It’s a simple formula for the Giants signal-caller; Produce, compete, take care of the football. On the heels of four consecutive under .500 seasons for the organization, his future under center depends on it. 

For Jones, it’s time to put up… or get out.

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