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Criticism over Giants’ top pick Daniel Jones is first test for the quarterback

Duke quarterback Daniel Jones poses with his new team jersey after the New York Giants selected Jone
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones poses with a New York Giants jersey after being selected sixth overall in the NFL draft.
(Jeff Haynes / Associated Press)

The New York Giants wanted to draft a quarterback who had faced adversity, and now it’s clear why.

Daniel Jones is being tested already.

The Giants made the Duke quarterback the sixth pick in the NFL draft, and the grumbling is already underway, with lots of fans upset the franchise passed on Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen — incidentally, both from New Jersey — to take Jones.

Viral footage shot at a draft party in MetLife Stadium on Thursday night shows the pick being announced on the video board followed by boos and wails of “Oh no!” and “Oh my God!” Some fans clasp their hands to their heads in utter frustration.

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In a sense, Jones caused almost as much of a stir as Arizona did by using the top pick on Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, although the latter led to the Cardinals shipping Josh Rosen to Miami.

There weren’t many fans taking a wait-and-see approach to Jones.

“Not shocking,” former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason texted when asked about the booing. “[Giants general manager Dave] Gettleman has said it takes a special guy to play QB in NY. Now, dealing with the negativity he’s dealing with now will be [Jones’] first test to see if he has those special intangibles Gettleman so desires.”

It’s hardly the first time someone has panned a draft pick. Jets fans do that every year. And 20 years ago, Philadelphia fans famously booed the selection of quarterback Donovan McNabb, who went on to become the best quarterback in Eagles history (with apologies to Super Bowl-winning Nick Foles). Eagles fans haven’t collectively booed a pick since.

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As for Jones, he’s a polite and poised young man with impressive passing skills, but ones closer to dink and dunk than shock and awe. He averaged 6.4 yards per pass attempt in college, and Lindy’s Pro Football Draft Guide compared him to NFL journeyman Josh McCown, a third-round pick in 2002. The Giants weren’t alone in liking Jones better than Haskins, however, and scouting quarterbacks is unquestionably an inexact science.

At this point, the plan calls for Jones to learn behind starter Eli Manning. That’s fitting because Jones was a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy and played for David Cutcliffe at Duke, who coached Manning at Mississippi (as well as Peyton Manning at Tennessee).

Not surprisingly, Jones is saying all the right things, and has a healthy respect for the 38-year-old Manning, who has won two Super Bowl rings and was most valuable player in both games. Gettleman told reporters he called Manning, who is in the final year of his contract, and broke the news before the pick that the Giants would be drafting a quarterback, and that the veteran was “fine” with it.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to learn for a young quarterback,” he said. “[Manning] is a guy that’s had a whole lot of success in the NFL, and there’s a reason for that. I’m looking to understand that and do my best to learn as much as I can from him while I’m in New York.”

Jones can take solace in this: He has a sympathetic supporter in Giants great Phil Simms, who got an underwhelming reaction from fans when the team took him in the 1979 draft. It was a much smaller event then, and there were only about 200 fans who heard then-commissioner Pete Rozelle read his name in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan.

“The fans only know what all the experts sitting on the panels are saying and this is how they judge him,” Simms told Newsday’s Bob Glauber in an interview since the Jones pick. “That’s not necessarily how NFL people judge them. It’s sad for the kid because it’s a great moment for him. He doesn’t want to come into a situation that’s like, ‘Why did we take you?’ ”

Simms said he doesn’t expect the boos to last long, and certainly not when Jones ultimately takes over for Manning. Then again …

“If the criticism is too much for you, then it wasn’t meant for you,” Simms told the newspaper. “If the adversity is too much for you, it’s not for you.”

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Relevant for him

Caleb Wilson heard 253 other names called before his, but he did get drafted. The UCLA tight end was the final selection of the draft Saturday, by the Cardinals, earning the nickname of “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Wilson will be the focus of the “Mr. Irrelevant” celebration in Newport Beach this summer, a week’s worth of tongue-in-cheek festivities that include a golf tournament, regatta, roast and ceremony where he receives the Lowsman Trophy, a playful spoof of the Heisman.

Announcing the pick for the Cardinals was Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop, the 2009 “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Singular talent

With their first four picks the Cardinals selected a quarterback, defensive back, receiver and defensive end. Mark Dalton, who oversees media relations for the team, noted each of those players wore single-digit numbers in college — 1, 1, 5, 2 — and the sum of all those jerseys is still a single digit.

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Robert Griffin III, the No. 2 pick by Washington in 2012, congratulated Haskins on Twitter after the Redskins him at No. 15.

But Griffin also slipped in a body blow to his old franchise.

Addressing the Redskins, he wrote: “You didn’t draft the young man for nothing. You did it because you believe in the young man. You did it because you need a Quarterback. Don’t give up on him prematurely. He is your investment. Give the kid time to prove himself.”

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Bully for you

San Francisco drafted South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel in the second round. Deebo is a nickname; his real first name is Tyshun.

“I got the nickname from the movie ‘Friday,’ ” Samuel said at the combine in February, in reference to a 6-foot-6 bully in the 1995 film. “My dad named me that. So when I was a kid, he said I used to be a bully and take kids’ toys and stuff at a young age.”

Asked if he’s still a bully, Samuel said, “Nah. On the field I am.”

Friendly skies

Among the enduring images of this draft is 315-pound Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins delivering a leaping shoulder bump on stage to a shocked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who stayed on the ground and braced for impact.

Just before he left his feet, Wilkins pointed to the sky to indicate he was heading up. Goodell didn’t take the hint.

“Has he never chest bumped anybody?” Wilkins said, jokingly. “That’s the clear, universal signal for we going up. But yeah, I guess he didn’t get the signal. It could’ve ended worse, it ended bad, but it could’ve have been worse. He almost didn’t get to the 14th pick. I’m glad he stayed firm on the ground because if he went up he probably would have went for a tumble.”

A joke making the rounds on Twitter was that Wilkins might have earned his first fine. Goodell was laughing as they collided.

“Acted a fool a little bit,” Wilkins said, “but it’s never hurt nobody.”

Yet.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer


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