For as many headlines as the Giants’ pick of quarterback Daniel Jones made on draft night, he’s just one of the players now.
“You don’t say anything. He doesn’t say anything. He comes into work every single day,” safety Michael Thomas said, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, about how the team is accepting him. “So, nah, Daniel Jones is one of our teammates now. If he can help us win, he’ll help us win like every other draft pick.”
In drafting Jones, the 6-foot-5 quarterback out of Duke, sixth overall, the Giants and GM Dave Gettleman made clear that Jones is the heir to Eli Manning, even though offensive coordinator Mike Shula said he thought Jones would be ready to go on Day 1.
Sure, the Giants could have drafted an impact defensive player like Josh Allen or Ed Oliver, but Thomas said he understood how the front office went about their draft strategy.
“Macro-thinking, micro-thinking. Obviously, I’m in the now,” Thomas said. “I want to win now. So, like everybody else, that is what I’m thinking. GMs, they have to think about something else. They have to plan for the future. For us, he’s our teammate now.”
While fans, media personalities and even George R.R. Martin were shocked at the pick, players didn’t express their surprise. Manning, for example, treated it “like another day at work,” according to Shula.
“We don’t really talk about that kind of stuff,” quarterback Kyle Lauletta said. “Eli has always been a creature of habit. He’s always been a professional. He’s been great to everybody in the building and he’s meant a lot to the Giants. So nothing has changed and he’s still the guy right now. He approaches everything like a pro, in a professional manner. Nothing different this year with the situation on our hands now.”
Added center Jon Halapio: “The reason it’s not too weird is because Eli hasn’t changed. His mindset, the way he approaches it, it hasn’t changed. It hasn’t altered his thinking or the way he prepares. He’s still the same guy. He’s never going to change.”
Jones said at his introductory press conference how it was difficult for him to ignore the backlash, but added he wasn’t prioritizing it.
“It’d be hard to be completely unaware of that stuff,” Jones said. “But I don’t focus on it. There’s a lot to focus on, a lot to learn. Being here, learning the offense, learning to pick up a lot of stuff. Not sure I can afford to focus on that.”
Was it a shock? To some. But to the Giants, it was just another day in making sure they were readying the franchise in the short and long term.