Dave Gettleman’s fate has been sealed.
For better or for worse, the Giants general manager’s legacy inextricably will be linked to Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, whose selection at No. 6 overall is as polarizing and controversial a choice as the team has made since 1979, when boos erupted at the Waldorf in New York after Pete Rozelle read the name of the Giants’ first pick: Phil Simms.
George Young was the embattled general manager for that widely panned decision four decades ago, but things worked out for the burly, bespectacled executive, who had taken over the Giants’ lead football decision-making role only months earlier.
Gettleman can only hope there will be a similar outcome for Jones, whose football pedigree is just as debatable as Simms’ was after his career at Morehead State in Kentucky.
“I really believe in this kid,” Gettleman said. “I really believe he is going to be a really nice, quality quarterback for us, for our franchise.”
Jones needs to be much more than just a “nice, quality quarterback” for the Giants. He needs to be a legitimate franchise quarterback the way Simms was in the 1980s and ’90s and the way Eli Manning has been since 2004.
Jones’ college coach, David Cutcliffe, said shortly after Jones’ selection that the quarterback is a championship-caliber player.
“I would think he’s going to play 14, 16 years, and he’ll be a championship quarterback,” said Cutcliffe, who coached both Eli and Peyton Manning. “He’ll win a championship.”
Just the musings that any college coach would make about his player? Go ahead and think that way. But Cutcliffe wouldn’t say something like that unless he truly meant it. It’s one thing to compliment someone you’ve coached; it’s another to pronounce him fit to win a Super Bowl.
“He understands what’s in front of him,” Gettleman said of Jones. “We’ve spoken to Eli and talked to him, and Daniel is coming in here to learn. Learn how to be a professional quarterback. He’s the right kid for us. He’s just the right guy, he has the right head. He’s a very mature kid. I have no doubt he is going to come in and do everything he can to prepare himself to follow Eli.”
Gettleman, 68, might be retired by the time Jones gets his chance to play, but there is no question that this is the defining moment of the GM’s career. He has worked for organizations that have gone to and won Super Bowls, but he has never made the all-important decision about drafting a quarterback.
A wave of criticism — more like a tsunami, actually — has been directed at Gettleman, not only for his selection of Jones but for the pick he used to select the Duke quarterback. With widely acclaimed pass rusher Josh Allen on the board after the Raiders passed on him at No. 4 and Tampa Bay took linebacker Devin White at No. 5, Gettleman opted not to chance losing out on Jones, even if it meant forgoing a badly needed defensive player. There’s no guarantee that Jones would have been available on the Giants’ next pick at 17th overall. The Redskins reportedly were interested in him and had the 15th choice, which they used on Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The Broncos, who owned the 10th pick before trading it, were said to be interested in Jones, too.
But if you have a conviction on a quarterback, regardless of whether he’s the popular choice among fans, you make sure you get him. And it’s clear that Jones met all the criteria for Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur, who no doubt was a major voice in this decision.
Many Giants fans still haven’t forgotten the ill-fated tenure of the last Duke quarterback taken in the first round. Young missed badly on Dave Brown, a supplemental pick in 1994. And if Jones turns into the second coming of Brown, Gettleman will have failed miserably and the franchise will be set back for years.
But if Jones turns out as well as Simms, Gettleman’s legacy will be secure and the team’s future will be in good hands.
There’s no in-between on this one. It’s boom-or-bust for Jones.
And for the guy who chose him.