Remember when New York native rapper turned podcast host, Joe Budden, unceremoniously dropped to the floor in defeat upon hearing the New York Giants calling Daniel Jones’ name with the sixth-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft? Budden’s disbelief was part of a chain reaction felt throughout the five boroughs and the NFL as a whole, leading some to seriously question whether Jones was the worst QB draft pick in the past decade.
Oh, how far we’ve come.
Jones Predicted for ‘MVP-Level Breakout’
CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin would like to know two things. One, “Why on Earth would Daniel Jones not be in the conversation for a breakout?” And two, “what on Earth makes (Kyler) Murray that much more of a lock to explode?”
While Jones was met with hate and doubt on draft day, the Cardinals were lauded with rave reviews landing Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray five picks earlier with the No.1 overall pick. The positive feedback has followed Murray over the last year or so, as he now ranks firmly towards the top of all 2020 MVP Odds.
However, Benjamin believes it could be Jones, not Murray, who becomes “this year’s MVP-level breakout QB.”
“No one’s going to have any trouble declaring Arizona’s QB the true breakout of 2020,” Benjamin notes. “Just know that if 2019 was any indication, Jones very much belongs on any radar scanning for the NFL’s next hot young talent under center.”
Jones’ Underappreciated Impressive NFL Debut
Benjamin points towards Jones’ impressive rookie campaign, one which he claims, “frankly hasn’t been lauded enough.” The Giants quarterback led all rookie signal-callers in 2019 with 24 passing touchdowns. Jones outpaced Murray by four TDs through the air, this despite the fact that the Giants QB started four fewer games than Murray on the season.
This segues us to Benjamin’s next point, a point that we at Heavy previously noted back in June, that Jones’ statistics from 2019 extrapolated over a 16-game slate are all-time great.
Not to mention, as Benjamin notes, Jones found his way on this historical pace despite the fact his top three weapons, running back Saquon Barkley, wide receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram all “practically limped through the season.”
Now with a fully healthy arsenal of weapons, one that includes the likes of budding star Darius Slayton as well as the insertion of unheralded offensive guru Jason Garrett, Benjamin sees a potential breakthrough for Jones in year two.
Now set to be uncorked under new coordinator Jason Garrett, who was a successful pass-heavy play-caller before getting bogged down by managerial duties in Dallas, Jones still has a strong set of weapons if they can stay healthy — Barkley is a top-three RB, Darius Slayton has emerged as a legitimate big-play threat out wide, and Golden Tate remains a strong No. 2 WR.
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Jones’ Turnover Woes Overblown?
While many Jones-doubters scramble to find reasons to denounce the quarterback’s attempt to discredit their pre-draft evaluation of him, the majority will latch on to Jones’ struggles with holding onto the football.
It’s true Jones cannot continue on his path coughing up the football with regularity if he hopes to cement himself among the upper-echelon of players at his position. However, as Benjamin notes, history has proven that quarterbacks who struggle with fumbles in their rookie year tend to quickly erase those said lapses from people’s memory rather quickly.
This, of course, is where we can’t ignore Jones’ NFL-leading 18 fumbles as a rookie. That can’t happen again. But guess what? Carson Wentz led the NFL with 14 fumbles as a rookie. Lamar Jackson led the NFL with 15 fumbles as a rookie. Nobody’s saying that poor ball protection is a predictor of future QB stardom, but let’s not pretend that Jones coughing up the rock behind a mediocre offensive line as a first-year QB negates everything else he did — you know, like the 26 TDs (including rushing) in 12 starts.
Offensive tackle Nate Solder’s decision to opt-out will surely not help Jones’ hopes of being less prone to turnovers in 2020. With that said, the Giants did use three of their first five picks in this past April’s NFL Draft on offensive lineman, including the fourth-overall selection on projected starting left tackle Andrew Thomas. Oh, and nearly 10-pounds of added muscle onto Jones’ now nearly 230-pound frame certainly won’t hurt.