Some New Faces at Left Tackle Could be Useful
By Michael Stewart (@golferbad)
Listing the OT position as a possible improvement in 2017 could have some scratching their heads. After all the same 5 starters from 2016 (aside from Bobby Hart replacing Marshall Newhouse); which was rated 22nd among the 32 teams in production are labeled to start in 2017 . After free agent signings, the draft and the UDFA phase, the Giants could have found themselves potential value in some of their new additions. Here’s a look at the OT candidates for the upcoming season:
Ereck Flowers (Drafted in the 2015 draft/9th overall): There’s no denying that Flowers has had 2 seasons with the Giants that he would like to forget. In his first 31 games as the Giants starting LT, Flowers struggled with his technique; which resulted in countless pressure in the passing game. However; Flowers is still only 23 years old and there is still time for him to project into the LT the Giants envisioned him to be. His physical traits (size, strength, quick feet, agility and athleticism) need to be groomed, along with his ability to be more consistent. His overall downside has been his inability to pass protect; which doesn’t bold well at the LT position (Blind Side). I still believe Flowers has time and will develop into a solid and reliable LT for the Giants and that could begin in 2017.
Bobby Hart (Drafted in the 2015 draft/7th round): Hart replaced the injured Marshall Newhouse in week 3 in 2016 and started 13 games.. He is big, strong, and smart, with just enough overall athleticism to play tackle. As the 2016 progressed, Hart did show signs of improving; which has the Giants management being very optimistic in 2017. Like Flowers, The struggles come in pass protection. If he can show steady improvement in that departure, the Giants would consider his current development a success.
D.J. Fluker (Free Agent signing in 2017): Fluker was a former 1st round selection in the 2013 draft by the Chargers and hasn’t lived up to his expectations thus far in his NFL career. He will most likely be looked upon to be super-sub at OT/OG if he doesn’t beat out Hart at RT. The former Charger has excellent size (6’5”, 339 pounds) and strength, but he has struggled in pass protection. Like Flowers and Hart, Fluker will need to improvement in pass protection in 2017.
Adam Bisnowaty (Drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft/6th round): Bisnowaty played primary left tackle at Pittsburgh, however; many scouts believe he could transition to either RT or even Guard at the NFL level. Regardless, for now we will list him as a Tackle as Bisnowaty has good size (6’6/ 304lbs) with long arms, huge hands and looks the part. He does lack the agility/footwork in pass protection, but has that workman like mentality to be an above average run blocker. Many scouts believe Bisnowaty slipped in the draft due to his history with injuries as he was projected to go early on day 3 of the draft.
Michael Bowie (free agent signed in 2017): Bowie has had a very uneventful NFL career thus far as he has bounced around the league with a number of teams (Seattle & Cleveland) before joining the Giants. Giants like his size (6’4/335) and some believe that Bowie could be best suited at the Guard position. Bowie’s versatility to play both the OT and OG position will only benefit him and although he will be a very long shot of making the 53 man roster; Bowie could possibly find himself making the Giants practice squad with a solid training camp. .
Chad Wheeler (UDFA signing in 2017): Wheeler’s absent from the draft puzzled many scouts as he was projected to early on day 3 despite off field issues and a history of injuries at USC. Wheeler combines good size with decent overall foot quickness at left tackle. Wheeler is a better pass protector than run blocker and he needs to get stronger.
Jessamen Dunker (UDFA signing in 2017): Dunker is a big, athletic guard who needs to get stronger and show more dedication in his game; which was one of the reasons why he went undrafted. The Giants coaching staff needs to tap into Dunker’s inner soul and convince him that hard work will pay off. Dunker has a ton of upside but making the 53 man roster is slim. He should be able to develop on the Giants practice squad. If so, the Giants could have found their future OG for the next decade.
Jarron Jones (UDFA signed in 2017): Jones was also featured in the Defensive Tackle preview. He played DT for Notre Dame. However; the Giants see enough ability in Jones that the notion of switching to OT is very intriguing. He is massive and very strong with very long arms that can dominate his opponent. Unfortunately, Jones work ethic and competitiveness has been questioned; which is the main reason he went undrafted. He also has arguably the most upside of all the UDFA mentioned.
Final Thoughts: GM Jerry Reese has had a history of finding talented UDFA signings in the past (Victor Cruz) and perhaps this group could produce a starter or two. Although it may take some time to see if that’s the case. However; on paper the Giants do have depth at OT position that in recent years past was non-existing.