The Giants did not take an offensive lineman in this year's NFL Draft despite having the position high on their wish list. At No. 10, they thought they a good shot at either Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley or Jack Conklin of Michigan State. They missed out on both.
The free agent market bore several candidates for the Giants, who were primarily looking for a right tackle. None of them signed with the Giants as they were looking for a left tackle gig, and the Giants are stubbornly unwavering in their committment to keep Ereck Flowers there. So, the search continues to upgrade the line.
The club has a steady five at the moment. Center Weston Richburg should have been a Pro Bowler last season and Justin Pugh has played well at left guard. In lieu of a spotty past, John Jerry has been both productive and reliable at right guard but the tackles. Flowers and right tackle Marshall Newhouse are the question marks at the moment.
Flowers was the team's right tackle last offseason until LT Will Beatty (who has since been released) tore a pec muscle and eventually missed the entire season. Flowers was cast into the fire at left tackle and he was schooled on a nearly a weekly basis. Newhouse, who was brought in to be a swing tackle, ended up playing 14 games on the right side.
The Giants obviously have been trying to upgrade over Newhouse this offseason but ot no avail. But there could be a reason why they aren't scorching the earth trying to find one. Second-year offensive lineman Bobby Hart is improving rapidly and could pose a legitimate challenge to Newhouse this summer.
Hart has reportedly lost 25 pounds this offseason in an effort to get quicker and become more durable. That hasn't hurt his strength, however. He started at nearly 340 pounds.
The former Florida State starting right tackle is a notoriously hard worker known for his dedication and punctuality. His production and talent are unquestioned, as well having been a member of FSU's national championship lineup in front of Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jameis Winston.
He could be the guy the Giants will eventually give the right tackle spot to, and it could happen early on. So far this offseason, we've seen Hart line up with the second team at right tackle.
Traditionally, the Giants have pieced together their offensive line through low-level free agent signings and mid-to-late round draft choices. Their starting lineup in Super Bowl XLII consisted of free agent RT Kareem McKenzie, two undrafted players (G Rich Seubert and C Shaun O'Hara), a second-round pick in G Chris Snee and LT David Diehl, a fifth-round pick.
They had a similar situation in SB XLVI. Diehl, McKenzie and Snee were joined by free agents David Baas at center and Kevin Boothe at guard. The current group has a higher pedigree and one would think they would be able to duplicate the success of the predecessors.
Pugh and Flowers are first-round picks, and Richburg was a high second. Jerry was rescued off the scrap heap after the "Bullygate" affair in Miami and Newhouse was on the verge of playing himself out of the NFL.
Here comes Hart, who may have gone undrafted had the Giants not taken him with the 226th overall pick two years ago. He is focused and has an opportunity. The Giants may have themselves another find on the offensive line.