After a season of watching his team get manhandled by opponents week after week, Giants CEO John Mara sent a mandate to executives on the football side to retool the trenches. On defense, they brought in three new tackles. On offense, they are bringing back all their starters from last season plus two draft picks: the top choice, Justin Pugh of Syracuse, and a seventh-round selection out of Ohio by the name of Eric Herman.
It's way too early to tell who will deliver and who will not, but the Giants may have found their new Rich Seubert in Herman. Then again, they may have another Mitch Petrus on their hands.
From what we can gather, the team is high on Herman and will give him every opportunity to make the club. He stands 6'4', weighs 320 lbs and is the type of player the Giants need in the middle of their line: tough, nasty and imposing.
Here is the front office analysis of Herman:
GM Jerry Reese: "A big, tough, nasty guard. We really liked him. We’d been looking at him on the board for a while there and we were hoping that if he could get to the seventh row he’d be a nice pick for us at that spot. He’ll create some competition at the guard position – tough, hard-nosed, big football player."
Director of College Scouting Marc Ross: "Eric Herman is just a tough, nasty brawler as a guard. I mean this guy is just physical. He likes contact. He plays hard. Not the most gifted athlete, but he’s just a tough guy and he’s big. A big, smart, tough guy and we think he’ll bring a physical presence to the line."
Head coach Tom Coughlin: "A tough guy...a guy that will slug it out and battle with you."
Last weekend, Herman was one of 35 players at the Giants' rookie minicamp. Since there is no contact, Herman and the other linemen present were marginalized. It was tough to gauge the ability, skill and toughness of the players during these drills.
Herman's game is all about physicality, endurance and reliability. He started every game (40 (total) from 2010-12 for Ohio. He recorded 128 pancakes and 131 knockdowns last year as Ohio averaged nearly 445 yards per game on offense. At the combine, Herman led all offensive lineman with 36 reps on the bench press.
Herman reminds us of the "Surburbanites" of the 1980's - the moniker Bill Parcells coined for his lunchpail offensive line - and the other great players they had in their recent Super Bowl runs such as Seubert and Shaun O'Hara. He is a throwback, but before he can step in and help the club, he still has a ways to go in acclimating to the pro game.
OC Kevin Gilbride after last weekend's minicamp: "I think Herman looked like he had some confusion with some of his assignments, but he certainly moved better than I thought he might move, so I think there’s some encouraging things. Once they reach a point where it’s going to get worse a little bit before it gets better, but once it finally starts to settle in a little bit and crystallize, then I think you’ll be able to make a fair appraisal of where (he's) at."
Herman also had a short Q and A with reporters last weekend:
Do you think it’s going to be a challenge to make this team?It’s always going to be a challenge. They had faith in me and they picked me. I came here to compete and work hard. I’m ready to do it.
Coach Coughlin said the one thing he was impressed about was there’s a mean streak in you.I like to specify with being on the field and being off the field. When I put on my helmet I’m a different person. I like to play hard football. It’s really exciting. I’m glad that I can continue playing.
You’re coming from the Mid-American Conference. Is there that much of a difference?"Not in my eyes. We play Big 10 teams. Some of the other teams play some SEC teams and we always compete. I’m a firm believer that the MAC is on its way up and they’re going to be making a lot more noise later on in these next couple of years."
Coach Flaherty always said that you have to be versatile to play on the offensive line. Is he telling you that you’re going to be a number of things?"Yeah. That’s to be expected. I want to learn from the veterans and pick everything up as fast as I can and be as (versatile) as I can on the line and know all of the positions."
Have you played tackle or center?"I’ve played center in high school. In college, I was primarily guard. That’s where I was comfortable. Just picking up the ball and snapping again is nothing really that new, so I’ve just got to keep working hard and playing football."
For the average guy that hasn’t seen you, what should we look for?"I play hard football. I love run blocking and I’m eager to learn and I’m excited to be a New York Giant."
Pass blocking?"I like pass blocking, too, but I’ve been known for being a hard nose run blocker."