Usually during preseason I watch a number of young players, because you get to see who flashes. This year, I frankly could care less about almost everyone on the field except Daniel Jones.
It is a QB-driven league. If you are set at QB, you can compete. If you don’t have a QB, the rest of the team simply does not matter. The days of a Trent Dilfer winning the Super Bowl are long gone. In today’s pass-happy NFL, if you do not have a QB, you are screwed.
Enter Daniel Jones. You will recall that in April we stated that the Giants “overdrafted” Jones. That was based on an evaluation of college film, and the risk vs reward at that time. Jones’s transformation from college to what we are seeing in the first two preseason games is noteworthy.
“Daniel Jones has improved dramatically since when I watched his Senior year college film,” says Wonder, this site’s Draft Analyst. “He is playing at a much higher level.”
In absolute terms:
Jones is showing understanding of the field, how to run an offense, great accuracy, and good touch.
In relative terms:
Even from Week 1 of preseason to Week 2 of preseason, there is more zip on the ball.
Wonder continues. “Jones’s footwork is much better than in college. As an example, he is pointing his foot to where he is throwing. He is using the lower half of his body, stepping into his throws and using his legs to throw the ball.
“He is not throwing off his back foot, which not only affects the strength of the throw but also its accuracy. His dropbacks are much smoother, much better than in college.
“It is pretty obvious to me that he has been working with someone to get better, and it shows. There is no comparison between his college tape and the pro tape.”
A comparison of the first TD vs the Jets and the touchdown to TJ Jones vs the Bears is night and day to Wonder. He did not like the first TD pass because it was a ball that could have been caught by both the receiver and the defender. Contrast that with the TJ Jones ball, which had perfect touch, where only the Giants receiver could have caught it. There was another pass to Cody Latimer which was also placed perfectly. Latimer used his 6′ 3″ height to get that. The defender had no chance.
“Right now, I give Jones a 9.5 out of 10. The only thing we haven’t seen is the deep ball, which I believe showed Jones to have less than capable NFL arm strength. At this point it really does not matter significantly because of everything else he has shown. He can work to improve his arm strength as well.
“Jones is showing so much poise. He found secondary receivers properly, the way you are supposed to do it, methodically, not rushed or harried. He was calm and not ruffled by the fumbles, which are a non-event. Completely correctable.
“My guy Darnold is set to explode this season if he can get an OL. He looks great but lacks help. As good as Darnold is right now, Jones is ahead of where Darnold was last year in preseason. Darnold was not nearly as advanced, so Daniel Jones can be very very good.”
One last thing that sums up Wonder’s bullishness on Jones… “I was amazed at the amount of progress from the end of college to now. It shows how much he has worked and studied. This is indicative to me of his maturity, because the willingness to work to improve is key in being a successful professional athlete.”
When should we see Jones come in to help the Giants? Wonder is a believer that you do not throw a guy to the wolves. He prefers that the Giants ease him in sometime this season if their record falls behind, like vs the Jets Game 10 or Packers Game 12. As long as the Giants and Eli are doing fine, he’d prefer Jones keep learning from Eli this season and just ask Eli questions about what he saw on certain plays so that he can continue to learn from the veteran without getting throttled by blitzes.
The Giants may have a franchise QB. It is only 2 preseason games, but Daniel Jones has made significant progress.