Giants QB Jones focusing on offense, not critics

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has heard the strong reaction to his selection and views it as his job to prove people right or wrong.

Jones was taken with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft. It has been widely debated whether the Giants could have waited until their second first-round pick, No. 17, to grab their eventual successor to Eli Manning.

The evaluations of the Duke quarterback were all over the board. Fans at the team's draft party the night of the selection booed. Analysis of the pick has often been critical.

"It would be hard to be completely unaware of all that stuff and the way it works nowadays," Jones said Friday at his introductory news conference. "But I don't focus on it. There is a lot to focus on. There is a lot to learn for me right now, being here learning the offense and trying to pick up a lot of stuff. I'm not sure I can afford to really focus on [criticism] too much."

Jones and the rest of the Giants draft class arrived in New Jersey on Thursday. They stepped on the practice field for the first time in Giants uniforms Friday for rookie minicamp. It is Jones' goal to get to work immediately. He plans to use this week to build chemistry with his teammates, learn coach Pat Shurmur's offense and show he can handle the information and execute on the field. Jones believes the rest will take care of itself if he does his part.

"It's my job to make people believe in me. I understand that," Jones said. "There is a lot of work to do and I'm excited to do it.

What Peyton Manning told him when he was making a decision to enter the draft remains applicable.

"His advice was, 'Whatever decision you make or whatever you do, people are going to criticize it. It's your job to prove them right or prove them wrong,'" Jones said. "I think that is still relevant advice."

Jones seems to understand his role with the Giants this season will be to serve as Eli Manning's backup. He views that as a positive. It's an opportunity to watch and learn behind a two-time Super Bowl winner, with no rush to get Jones on the field early in his career.

"I think a lot of it is in his routine," Jones said of what he can learn from Manning. "I think anyone who has played that long and had that much success, he certainly has a routine and there is a reason he's had that success.

"So to me I think it's just watching him every day and learning from what he does every day and how he carries himself and how he prepares every week. Just being able to watch that, learn from that, is an awesome opportunity."

Manning called Jones last Friday, congratulated him on the accomplishment and expressed excitement about being teammates. Manning knows his now-potential successor through their connection to coach David Cutcliffe and the Manning Passing Academy, where Jones has twice been a participant.

Cutcliffe was Jones' head coach at Duke. He was Manning's coach at Ole Miss and has remained a friend and adviser over the years. Manning and Jones have met at the camp and on Duke's campus, where Manning had taken his receivers in previous years for an offseason workout.

Shurmur and Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said they called Manning while making the selection last Thursday. They told the 38-year-old quarterback it's his job to win games and keep Jones from getting on the field.

Manning seems to be taking the selection in stride. It's the third straight year the Giants have taken a quarterback, with Jones joining Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta. Perhaps coincidentally, all three were Senior Bowl MVPs.

"Eli has handled it well," his father, Archie Manning, told ESPN by phone earlier this week. "They will work together well. Eli will be a good mentor. I assure you he'll be a good mentor. They'll have a good quarterback room. It will all work out."

Jones wanted to play in New York knowing full well it would mean being alongside Eli Manning. Jones said Friday that was his preference, and the first thing that came to his mind once he was selected was how "awesome" it was going to work with Manning.

Now he gets the opportunity.