New York Giants Draft Picks 2019: Jones over Haskins Reveals Big Blue Bias?
The New York Giants fired GM Jerry Reese in 2017. Two veteran evaluators, Louis Riddick, and Dave Gettleman were finalists for the job. Riddick was a former director of pro personnel, ex-NFL player and ESPN personality. Gettleman was a 30-year NFL evaluator who spent 15 years in the Giants personnel office. Owners John Mara and Steve Tisch had the chance to chart a new course for the organization. The Giants hired Gettleman instead. In less than two seasons, he has completely reshaped the roster. Gettleman traded several Pro-Bowlers including WR Odell Beckham Jr. for little in return. Fans despised the moves, but the New York Giants 2019 draft picks pushed them over an edge. Duke QB Daniel Jones was selected sixth overall over Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State University and DE Josh Allen of Kentucky.
Daniel Jones’ physical traits don’t jump off the page, but Gettleman loved his intangibles. Jones was a three-year starter, who was coached by Eli Manning’s former head coach at Ol’ Miss. He was the third or fourth-rated quarterback on most draft boards, but Gettleman fell in love with the Duke signal caller after the Senior Bowl. Meanwhile, Haskins threw 54 touchdowns in fourteen games and was the Big Ten Offensive Player of Year. One quarterback is white, doesn’t have a rocket arm, but has a relationship with the Mannings. The other is black, isn’t mobile and only played 14 games in college.
Riddick, a more modern talent evaluator who relies on player measurables, preferred Haskins over Jones. Gettleman, who worked under Giants long-time GM Ernie Accorsi, wants character guys. 247 Sports described him this way- “[he] believes in building the roster with high-character players whose production on the field trumps their athletic traits.” League observers are so confused by the Jones selection, there are growing rumblings that race could have a played a role in the Giants draft.
I’m Not a Racist, I Employ Black Players
Let’s get one thing straight, we’re not accusing the Giants of racism. Even if Gettleman rated Jones over Haskins, the Giants had a second first-round pick at 17. Why did they reach? Gettleman’s public statements about needing a new face for the organization raised more eyebrows. Haskins has no character issues, so what exactly about the Giants roster is unacceptable? Also, did Gettleman’s roster moves signal a bigger disconnect between Giants ownership and players.
During Tuesday’s Michael Kay Show, Michael, Don LeGreca and Peter Rosenberg debated the current state of the Giants and whether race had any impact on their draft board. The Giants conversation kicks off at the 15:00 mark.
In the span of 24 hours, the Giants traded both CB Eli Apple and DT Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison in 2018. Apple was immature but was finally playing up to his first-round potential. He was very outspoken during his rookie year and called out by his teammates multiple times. But by year two, Apple was a key piece of the Giants secondary. Then he was traded to the Saints.
Gettleman wasn’t finished. In the 2019 off-season, the Giants allowed three-time Pro Bowl safety, Landon Collins, to enter free agency rather than use an $11.15 million franchise tag that would have kept him a Giant. Collins’ production slumped in his final season, but it didn’t merit cutting ties. The defensive captain was a constant presence in the New York media covering the team, even when the Giants struggled.
The biggest move Gettleman made was trading top wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham is a lightning rod. Whether it was his controversial touchdown celebrations, antics on the sidelines, interviews with ESPN and Lil’ Wayne, or partying with drugs and Justin Bieber. But what couldn’t be argued is when OBJ was healthy, he was a difference maker. But Gettleman and team brass cut bait. Even though he was the most popular player on the team, the Giants traded him to the Cleveland Browns. Were the Giants fed up with Beckham’s act? We will never know for sure, but again the Giants statements about ‘character’ raise serious questions.
Is a Preference Racism?
League source has continuously emphasized that a big consideration for the #Giants is feeling comfortable with their pick being a franchise representative for not just the team, but also the city. Given the front office, the Daniel Jones pick is zero surprise. I mean zero!— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) April 26, 2019
"If Dwayne Haskins, as an African American, goes to Duke and puts up those mediocre stats, 7th in the Conference, he's not drafted Day 1 or Day 2. That stuff is racial."— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) April 26, 2019
— @criscarter80 pic.twitter.com/MTq0I5WEJn
The Daniel Jones selection was the talk of the draft. Jaguars’ CB Jalen Ramsey, ESPN’s Josina Anderson and Cris Carter’s from FS1 were just some NFL-ers who were befuddled by the Giants selection. But what are we talking about, really?
We’re talking about the stereotype about black quarterbacks. Historically black quarterbacks were judged not smart enough to lead an offense. Even as the number of black quarterbacks has increased in recent years, black quarterbacks are dual threats that can run and pass. Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott were not highly-touted draft picks. They’ve worked themselves into starting roles, with Wilson becoming the highest paid quarterback in the league.
Is a preference racist? The Giants and other teams would argue no. There isn’t an NFL rule preventing black quarterbacks from getting jobs. But issues of race and leadership in the NFL need more context and nuance. While nearly 70% of the league is black, only 17% of quarterbacks are African-American. Is this simply tradition or are NFL owners threatened by persons of color leading their teams on the field? Couldn’t Saquon Barkley be the face that runs the Giants place? Apparently not. Quarterbacks are typically the primary team leaders, not running backs. Gettleman and his old-school mentality felt the Big Blue needed to add another highly educated, white, quarterback to lead their franchise. Enter Daniel Jones.
Times Need to Change
Are the Giants racist? Probably not. They’re conservative. Yes, they’ve drafted and immortalized players like Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan, and Tiki Barber. GM Jerry Reese is a black man. But Big Blue is also slow to adapt. The franchise was founded in 1925. It’s season ticket holders go back generations. The rise of extroverted, social-media savvy professional athletes probably scares the hell out of team brass. Ownership probably feels that players like OBJ or Colin Kaepernick alienate the fanbase. So the Giants can hide behind ‘business concerns’ when they evaluate talent.
And that’s the real problem. Until the NFL owner class accepts that placing people of color in positions of leadership won’t hurt their bottom line, racial divides will remain.