For the NY Giants, nothing matters more in 2021 than making a final determination on Daniel Jones’ ceiling as an NFL quarterback.
Can the Giants feel comfortable hitching their future for the next decade to Jones, or will it be time to focus on the top prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft class to mine an elite quarterback to drag the franchise out of the doldrums of an eight year run with just one postseason berth over that span?
Is Jones the next Baker Mayfield, or is his ceiling that of Jameis Winston, unable to fully master his turnover woes?
Pro Football Focus believes that it is now or never for Jones to prove he is a legitimate franchise quarterback in this league:
The jury is still out on Daniel Jones about whether he is the long-term answer for the Giants. He showed modest growth in Year 2, raising his 65.6 passing grade as a rookie to 74.4 in 2020. The 2019 No. 6 overall pick still displayed poor pocket awareness with more fumbles in a collapsing pocket than any other quarterback in the league while also converting pressure to sacks at a high rate of 21% (eighth-worst).
But from a clean-pocket — the most stable area of quarterback play — Jones was right where he needed to be. He ranked 12th this past season in passing grade in such situations. His deep ball was also on point, as he placed third in the NFL in passing grade on 20-plus-yard throws. This upcoming season is a massive year for the New York Giants franchise, and Jones will dictate the direction the team heads.
Granted, last season was Jones’ third consecutive year with a new head coach and offensive coordinator combination, dating back to his senior season at Duke, and the NY Giants’ wide receiving corps wildly disappointed with no receiver catching more than three touchdowns.
However, Jones needs to do a substantially better job protecting the football if he is ever going to be considered among the premier quarterbacks in the league and lead the Giants to consistently competing.
The NY Giants will likely significantly bolster Jones’ supporting cast at wide receiver, tight end, and along the offensive line this offseason via free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft. At that point, the excuses will be gone for Jones, in his second year in coordinator Jason Garrett’s scheme. So too, the Giants hope, will the questions about his potential be answered.