Carson Wentz, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson.
What do those three quarterbacks have in common? Each took a significant step forward in their second seasons and became MVP candidates, following a trend that has repeated itself time after time in recent NFL history. Teams looking for a return on their investment into a first-round signal caller look for results early on, and they tend to draft with the objective of building around and evaluating their identified quarterback of the future.
When it comes to former Duke and current New York Giant starting quarterback Daniel Jones, expecting a leap similar to the three quarterbacks previously mentioned is likely too overzealous. However, Jones showed many signs as a rookie that he is capable of leading the Giants through life after Eli Manning. After taking over the starting spot for Manning after New York lost its first two outings, Jones appeared to spark a sputtering offensive attack, with 24 passing touchdowns and a 61.9 percent completion percentage. While the team ended up with a mere 4-12 record, it appeared that Jones indeed had the ability to be a franchise quarterback.
Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, it was anticipated that the Giants’ strategy would be to get significant protection for Jones along the offensive line. This was the obvious route to take, because if there was one thing that plagued the former Blue Devil quarterback last season, it was his penchant for putting the ball on the turf when pressure arrived. 18 fumbles in 12 starts is not something that the Giants want to see going forward, so they quickly got to work on establishing a foundation up front. Three of their first five selections in this past weekend’s draft were offensive linemen, including Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick.
Thomas displayed impressive footwork and strength while at Georgia and will likely start immediately at either tackle spot. Fellow draft picks Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux, who were taken in the third and fifth rounds, respectively, provide depth and versatility along the offensive line. Peart has tremendous upside and may serve as a replacement for aging left tackle Nate Solder, while Lemieux started 52 consecutive contests as part of one of college football’s best offensive lines at Oregon.
Three additions to the offensive line go a long way towards ensuring that the Charlotte native can go through his reads unimpeded every time he drops back. Sure, Jones is a solid runner who can make the occasional play off script, but the reality is that his best work comes within the structure of the pocket.
After all, Jones was often described as the most pro-ready quarterback leading up to his draft, and the coaching staff did not appear to limit the playbook with Jones as the starter. The organization clearly trusts the former Blue Devil as the future of the franchise alongside superstar tailback Saquon Barkley. Cutting down on mistakes has become a team effort, and Jones has been given potential anchors to keep sack masters from bearing down on him and creating turnovers.
Oftentimes, a team tells you what they think of their quarterback through the players that they draft. In the case of Thomas, Peart and Lemieux, the Giants are telling fans and media that they are committed to providing the utmost support for their young quarterback and helping him improve on a glaring weakness from his otherwise impressive rookie season. The organization recognizes the fact that Jones will be the starter for the foreseeable future and values him to the point where giving him as much time to throw as necessary and preventing injury are primary objectives.