Sam Darnold
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

No matter how his career plays out, New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones will always be linked to three players who could have been.

Jason Leach

Whoever was going to be the heir apparent to Eli Manning was going to have huge shoes to fill. After being taken by the New York Giants with the sixth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, quarterback Daniel Jones is now faced with immense pressure.

Over the past, whether on social media or talk shows, many have expressed their opinion that Jones was not worthy of being taken with the sixth pick. After all, he completed just 60.5% of his passes in his final season at Duke to go along with his 22 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.


But Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe, who helped groom Peyton Manning when he was an assistant coach with the Tennessee Volunteers, and Eli, when he was the head coach at Ole Miss, swears that Jones can have a career that mirrors Eli’s.

General manager Dave Gettleman feels the same way, which is why he took Jones at six when many felt Jones would be available with the Giants second first-round pick at 17. But Gettleman fell in Love with Jones after watching his three series at the Senior Bowl and wasn’t willing to take the risk of Jones falling to 17.

Not only does Jones have to live up to the expectations of being the number sixth pick and following in the footsteps of Manning, but he’ll also be linked and compared to these three players who could have been New York Giants.

Dwayne Haskins

Heading into the draft, many felt if the Giants were going to take a quarterback with the sixth pick, it would have been Dwayne Haskins, and there would have been little if any backlash from the selection. After all, Haskins shattered Drew Brees’s Big Ten record for touchdown passes in a season with 50.

But Dave Gettleman stuck with his philosophy of taking a player that deploys a healthy collegiate starting resume. Jones was a starter at Duke for three seasons, compared to Haskins who started just one at Ohio State.

Despite the fact that Haskins played for a college football powerhouse, and Jones played at a school that’s known for its college basketball team, you can’t fault Gettleman for sticking with his philosophy and taking the quarterback he feels will be the best fit.

With the Washington Redskins selecting Haskins with the 15th pick in the draft, we’ll get to see Jones and Haskins meet twice a year for the next several years to come, and find out first hand who’s the better quarterback.

Josh Allen

The excitement on draft night for Giants fans intensified when Kentucky edge rusher was still on the board when the Giants were on the clock. Allen was considered the second best pass rusher in the draft behind Nick Bosa.

A pass rush has been sorely missing from the Giants for years. They have a combined 57 sacks over the last two seasons and haven’t had a player with double-digit sacks since Jason Pierre-Paul in 2014.

New York Giants

Edge rushers don’t impact the game the same way quarterbacks do, but Allen seems to have Pro Bowl potential, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Allen had double-digit sacks as a rookie.

Allen was selected the pick after Jones at seven by former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who is the vice president of football operations with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Allen becomes the stud pass rusher many believe he will be and Jones struggles, fans will just have to wonder what might have been if Gettleman chose Allen instead of Jones.

Sam Darnold

Although they were not in the same draft class, Jones and Darnold will be linked together because they’ll both play at MetLife Stadium, and because many felt the Giants should have taken Darnold with the second pick in the 2018 draft instead of Saquon Barkley.

Barkley lived up to being the second pick in the draft as he won Offensive Rookie of the Year, and broke several franchise rookie records, but Barkley’s phenomenal talent may go to waste if Jones is not a quality starter in the NFL.

The Jets may have gone 4-12 last season, but Darnold showed promise last year, throwing 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions with a subpar supporting cast. We’ll have to see if Jones shows the same promise when he gets his chance to step on the field. Depending on how the Giants season goes, we may see Jones lead the Giants against the Jets in their Week 10 matchup.

Whether you agree with the Giants taking Jones at six or not, Jones will eventually get his opportunity to showcase his skills and prove his doubters wrong. But for the time being, New York Giants fans should have faith that Dave Gettleman knew what he was doing when he took Daniel Jones.

We’ll find out in two or three years if his conviction was correct.