Giants Draft QB Daniel Jones, DT Dexter Lawrence, CB Deandre Baker In 1st Round

April 26, 2019 - 12:27 am
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By WFAN.com 

The Giants had a wild draft night Thursday that featured more than one surprise.

First, general manager Dave Gettleman pulled a stunner when he selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick. After adding Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at No. 17 overall -- a pick the Giants acquired in last month's Odell Beckham Jr. trade -- Gettleman surprised again by trading back into the late first round (30th overall) with the Seattle Seahawks and taking Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker.

But the Jones pick was clearly the biggest talker of the night, especially considering Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins, ranked higher by most draft analysts, was still available. Jones was a late riser who few had pegged as a top-six pick. Haskins ended up going to the Washington Redskins at No. 15.

In 11 games for the Blue Devils in 2018, Jones completed 60.5% of his passes while amassing 2,674 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In his three seasons starting for Duke, the 6-foot-5 quarterback passed for at least 2,670 yards while running for at least 315 yards and three touchdowns every year.

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Jones is an accurate passer with a strong arm, evidenced by his solid performance at the 2019 Senior Bowl. Scouts like his pocket presence and the way he keeps his feet moving and eyes downfield even with pressure mounting around him. Some believe Jones needs to get the ball out of his hands quicker, but he is thought to have a high football IQ.

Gettleman said Jones' pocket presence and poise won him over. The GM added that it was during the Senior Bowl that he fell in "full-bloom love" with Jones, who looked like a "professional" on the field.

"He's got feel," the GM said. "He really has all the things you're looking for."

The Giants have said they're committed to starting the season with Manning, but the two-time Super Bowl MVP is 38 years old and Big Blue has gone just 8-23 with him under center the past two years. They were criticized last year, when they owned the second overall pick in a quarterback-rick draft, for not beginning to implement a succession plan for Manning.

Coach Pat Shurmur said he told Manning that "it’s your job to win games and keep this guy off the field.”

Jones and Manning have some common threads. Both played for coach David Cutcliffe, the former Ole Miss coach who is now at Duke. Cutcliffe was also Peyton Manning's offensive coordinator at Tennessee. And Jones was a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana.

Gettleman obviously liked what he saw in Jones, and the 21-year-old QB said he felt a connection with the general manager, too, during his recent visit to East Rutherford.

"I just think he impressed me with his presence, who he was, and I'm looking forward to learning from him, the whole coaching staff, Coach (Mike) Shula (the Giants' offensive coordinator), and I'm just excited for the opportunity to be in New York," Jones told ESPN. "I'm thrilled."

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Lawrence, meanwhile, is a mammoth of a man, coming in at 6-4, 342 pounds but has surprising explosiveness given his size. He ran a 5.05 40-yard dash and has the size, power and athleticism to play a variety of positions along the defensive line. No matter where he lines up, Lawrence showed a tendency in college to constantly create pressure and cause disruption in the backfield. 

Over his three seasons at Clemson, Lawrence racked up 131 total tackles, 18 tackles for losses and 10 sacks.

Lawrence is familiar with Jones, having played against him in the ACC. He called his new teammate "really special" and "deceptively fast," according to the New York Post's Paul Schwartz.

Deandre Baker
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In order to acquire a third first-round selection, the pick used on Baker, the Giants surrendered a second-round choice (No. 37 overall), a fourth-round pick (No. 132) and a fifth-round selection (No. 142). The fourth- and fifth-round picks they gave up were acquired in last year's Eli Apple and Damon Harrison trades. 

Baker is considered by scouts to be an excellent press corner who can handle single-man coverage. The 5-foot-11, 193-pound cornerback did not run the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine (4.52), but showed in his four years in the SEC that he has quick feet and great pattern recognition. He broke up nine passes with two interceptions in 2018 and finished with nine pass breakups and three picks the year before.

Baker was a first-team All-American and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He was the only cornerback selected in the first round.