Giants need Daniel Jones a little more help in NFL Draft

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So far, the biggest splash the Giants have made this offseason was when they gave Daniel Jones a new contract that will pay him $40 million a year.

The $160 million four-year extension (with an additional $35 million achievable in incentives) raised eyebrows, given both Jones’ credentials going into 2022 — a 12-25 win-loss record as a playoff season starter — and the fact that he only threw 15 touchdown passes last season.

On the surface, $40 million a year is a lot to pay for 15 touchdown passes.

There’s more to it, of course, starting with the fact that 2022 was Brian Daboll’s first year at Jones.

The Giants wouldn’t have invested that money in Jones if Daboll didn’t think he could make him worth the money.

The Giants head coach, who is entering his sophomore season after a 9-7-1 record and a playoff berth, believes he can do more with Jones than he did last season.

And that process begins with who surrounds Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen Jones, starting with this week’s NFL draft and Thursday night’s first round.

Jones played with one hand tied behind his back at times last season with an already thin and unproven receiving corps that was plagued with injuries that saw the fifth-year quarterback throwing passes to B-level pass catchers and guys the team signed off the street.

The Giants’ first pick in Thursday’s first round is only 25th overall — unless they trade. There will be recipients in that place that they visited in the pre-design process. However, it’s not seen as a super strong receiver design by the draft analysts, so the Giants will be careful not to jump at a need.

Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones hasn’t had a true No. 1 wide receiver since the team swap with Odell Beckham Jr.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Should they trade – a maneuver they can pull off well with the design capital of 10 picks – that player will definitely be someone Daboll and Schoen believe could be a game-changer.

In a perfect world, Daboll would love to find Jones his own Stefon Diggs, as Daboll’s Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, has had Diggs, who has averaged 112 receptions over the past three seasons and caught 29 TD passes in that span.

That kind of 25th-place find is probably a gamble, but Jones needs more receiving talent to throw at if he wants to produce more than 15 touchdown passes, which he needs to win consistently in the pass-first league. He really needs a WR1, which he never really had.

Potential DJ helpers the team met in the pre-draft process include Boston College’s Zay Flowers, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, TCU’s Quentin Johnston, and USC’s Jordan Addison.

Zay flowers
Zay flowers

“It’s a good group of receivers at the top of the draft,” said Schoen. “[We have to] identify what is going to separate these guys from the pack and what makes them great. Every year I think more than 20 receivers are drafted, and how many actually succeed? That’s what we’re trying to figure out. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.”

The problem for the Giants last season was that there were more weaknesses than strengths among their receiving corps.

Darius Slayton, who was on the bubble to even make the final roster coming out of training camp, caught 46 passes for 724 yards, averaging 15.7 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Richie James, who was more on the roster for his kick return ability, led all Giants receivers with 57 catches for 569 yards and had four TDs.

And he’s not even on the team anymore, having signed with the Chiefs this offseason.

Isaiah Hodgins, a former Bills backup/castoff, caught 33 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns.

Wan’Dale Robinson, who trimmed his rookie season to just six games due to a torn ACL, caught 23 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown.

Veteran Sterling Shepard was gone after just three games after blowing out a knee, finishing with 13 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown.

Daniel Bellinger was the leading pass-catching tight end with 30 receptions for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

Collectively, comparable production in 2023 won’t be good enough, and it certainly won’t justify giving Jones that $160 million.

Tight Darren Waller’s takeover could be a big one if he can stay sane. Waller caught 90 passes in 2019 and 107 in 2020 – the two seasons in his seven-year career in which he played all 16 games.

A healthy Waller makes Jones better.

But there remains a blatant need for one or two major receivers from this release that will immediately contribute.

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