The way Mike Shula sees it, on a different franchise without an Eli Manning standing in his way, Daniel Jones could have been Sam Darnold … Day 1 starter.
“I think he’d be ready to go, that’s my personal opinion,” the Giants offensive coordinator and quarterback coach said Wednesday. “I do. I would say this — times have changed. In years past, you draft a guy, whenever you draft him, even if he was that early, those guys would traditionally not play until their second or third year. But really ever since probably six or seven years ago you started seeing more guys playing early.
“But I think he has that capability.”
Shula was even more impressed with Jones at last week’s OTAs than he was at his Pro Day at Duke.
“Throws the ball very well, he’s got a quick release, good touch,” Shula said. “And then when he got here, I think everything was even a little bit better. I think his arm was even stronger than I remember, his release was even quicker than I remember.”
The heir to the Big Blue throne has a makeup that might have some calling him Eli Jones.
“He’s a solid person,” Shula said. “He’s really smart. And in my opinion the way you can tell that is not alone by how he’s picking things up but by the questions he asks. The things that he was new to, you could kinda see how quickly he picked them up.”
Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher would have done backflips had GM Dave Gettleman drafted OLB Josh Allen with the sixth pick. He was doing cartwheels over Jones anyway.
“A guy that was decisive with where he wanted to go with the ball, took great command … there wasn’t a moment where things get a little hairy on defense because there’s a lot of young guys learning new things,” Bettcher said. “There’ll be defensive looks that he’s dealing with that aren’t real defensive looks. You never saw the guy get flustered, you saw him play with poise.”
The Giants should make every effort to get Jones on the field at some point because there is no substitute for experience. Manning can forestall what will loom as a gut-wrenching passing of the torch for everyone by turning back the clock.
“Hey, man, we want to win, we want to win right now,” Shula said. “If Eli has his best year, then most likely we’re gonna be in the playoffs.And that’s all we kinda think about.”
Manning clearly knew the day would finally come when the franchise would draft his heir apparent. Manning’s reaction when Shula told him on draft night that the Giants were drafting Jones was vintage Easy Eli.
“I could barely hear him because he’s got his youngest in his arms, the baby [boy], he might have been changing his diaper … ‘Oh yeah, coach, great. See you tomorrow,’ ” Shula said, and smiled.
Jones is lucky getting a chance to watch how Manning, the Perfect Professional, works at his craft.
“This time last year was my first time with Eli, and seeing him in the offseason, I thought he was in really good shape,” Shula said. “I think he’s in better shape now. He’s kinda moving around pretty good, his arm looks fresh.”
Shula laughed when he was told about the report that one team at the combine asked Jones to work out at tight end.
“That’s my thought,” Shula said, still laughing. Then he added: “I’ll say this — he can run on a quarterback draw.”
Daniel Jones won’t be running it on Day 1. The intrigue is exactly when he will be.
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