The New York Giants once had a mighty offensive line, one that set records for consistency and production. They won two Super Bowls because they found the right mixture of free agents, low draft picks, walk-ons and rejects. After several seasons of watching their offense sputter in key situations due to poor play along the line, GM Jerry Reese thinks he may finally have found right stuff again.
Reese passed on some of the best linemen in the draft, stating afterward that his staff did not feel any of the available players were worth the value. Reese said they were “not in our window” when the Giants’ turn to select came around.
They waited until the sixth round to select Pitt OT Adam Bisnowaty (6’6″, 304), a player who was hurt a good deal of his collegiate career, but is known as a brawler, and the Giants hope he can bring that toughness into their offensive huddle.
“Bisnowaty’s played a lot of football at Pittsburgh at a high level of competition, and he’s one of these guys — a David Diehl kind of guy. He’s going to bring that attitude every day,” Reese told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Monday. “He’s tough. He’s big. He’s going to bring the same intensity every day. You know what you’re going to get every day from this guy.”
Head coach Ben McAdoo followed Reese on the air with Francesa and appeared to be satisfied with the choice of Bisnowaty, who fits the profile of Giants linemen who played during their recent championship runs.
“I feel that we built a lot of competition in the offensive line room,” McAdoo told Francesa. “We didn’t necessarily draft a guy real high, but we drafted a guy that we like, and he’s played a lot of football in the ACC and is a tough, experienced player. Adam’s going to come in and push those two tackles (Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart).”
Flowers and Hart were subpar, to put it kindly, last season. They never seemed to acclimate to new OL coach Mike Solari’s system. As a result, the whole line was out of whack. Losing guard Justin Pugh to a knee injury for five games during the season didn’t help.
But QB Eli Manning did not trust the protection and got rid of the football too early too many times to avoid getting hit. If Bisnowaty and free agent signee D.J. Fluker can unseat one or both of the incumbents, you won’t get any argument from Manning, or the fans.
But don’t count on the Giants giving up on Flowers, a former first round pick who just turned 23 last week, since they have two years remaining on his rookie deal. Plus, the Giants cover their draftees. They usually give their high draft picks every chance to succeed.
“We still have high hopes for Ereck,” Giants VP of Player Evaluation Marc Ross said after the draft. “He’s young. The guy started two years in the NFL and the guy is still young. He really should be coming out in this draft. So to say that you are going to throw a guy away for having inconsistencies his first two years in the NFL, I don’t think that is very fair to Ereck. We think he’s going to get better; he’s going to take a big jump. He does everything possible to get better; he’s in here every day working his butt off, so we have high hopes for him.”
That may be so, but the Giants are in a “win now” window, with just three years left on Manning’s contract. They need to protect him and get their sad, sorry running game going again. They know the level of play has to rise and don’t really care what measures they have to take to get there.
Reese also has brought in several undrafted free agents, players he says may be equal to or just as good as some of the linemen drafted this past weekend. USC’s Chad Wheeler, Jessemen Dunker of Tennessee State and Coastal Carolina’s Sam Ekwonike. All three went undrafted for one reason or another but Reese believes off-the-field issues to be the culprit. He said that players with similar resumes are making millions of dollars in the league right now.
That being stated, Reese feels he can continue to bolster the line as the season approaches by nook or by crook.
“Offensive line will be a position that we’ll try to add players to as we go,” he said. “Every day the waiver wire has players, and we’ll watch that. There’s always trade possibilities, if we think that’s what we need to do.”