EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.--Rome wasn’t built in a day, so expectations that quarterback Daniel Jones, the surprise No. 6 overall in this year’s draft is going to be game-ready by the time the Giants open up the 2019 campaign should be tempered by even the most optimistic of football minds.
But for all the hand wringing and concern over Jones and whether the Giants made a mistake when they plucked him out of Duke to potentially succeed Eli Manning, the young man has gotten off to a positive start in reaffirming the Giants beliefs that he has all the makings to be the next franchise quarterback.
“He has pretty good fundamentals,” said Giants head coach Pat Shurmur hours before the rookies hit the field for their second practice of the minicamp.
“Some of the plays that we are going to ask him to execute are different from what he has done. New drops with some different footwork, but he is pretty well coached.”
That coaching, of course, is courtesy of Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, who famously tutored both Peyton and Eli Manning when they were in college.
Shurmur didn’t hesitate in agreeing that Cutcliffe’s influence on Jones is evident and that a lot of what was taught has already begun to show up on the NFL practice field.
“You have to have all the traits and be able to do all the things a quarterback needs to,” Shurmur said. “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.”
Being mobile and knowing when to use that mobility certainly doesn’t hurt either, and that’s something that Jones also brings to the table.
At Duke, he rushed for 1,323 yards on 406 carries with 17 rushing touchdowns. He was also on the receiving end of two passes for six yards during his four-year college career.
“When you find a guy that is mobile, that is really special, in my mind,” Shurmur said. “I 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. He is a really good decision maker. That is critical for quarterbacks.”
Shurmur scoffed at the notion that Jones lacks arm strength, a criterion that the Giants head coach has never put at the top of the list when evaluating quarterbacks.
“If you don’t have the first few traits (decision making, mobility), arm strength means nothing, in my mind,” Shurmur said. “He has arm strength; I think you saw that as well.
The next step for Jones after he wraps up his participation in the weekend minicamp will be to take with him a select part of the playbook to study over the next week on top of what information he’s already been given.
“It has been manageable, but it’s all new stuff for everyone,” Jones said of all the cramming he’s had to do over the weekend. “I think it was a good amount of stuff; 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.”
Jones will take that material and continue his workouts at Duke, but he’ll also have a direct line to Shurmur and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Shula if he needs it.
“I’m gonna try to learn as much as I possibly can,” Jones said. “It’s tough without being on the field necessarily in 11 on 11 football, but if he expects me to do it, I will make sure I do my best to do it.”
“We trust him, but we are going to guide him certainly,” Shurmur added. “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 get better.”
“Trying not to make the same mistake twice is the challenge,” ones said when asked about being coachable. “People want to see in a coachable player someone that doesn’t make the same mistake twice. I think focusing on that and understanding what you need to correct, making sure you are mindful of that when the situation presents itself.”
And when he does return after the week away, Jones hopes to be able to hit the ground running with whatever offensive unit he’s assigned to direct.
“Absolutely; coming back the week after next, it will be with the veterans, and you will be expected to be on that page. I have a whole lot to do next week, for sure,” he said.