The New York Giants' biggest need heading into the NFL draft was along their battered offensive line. So it's not surprising that the biggest criticism of their draft has been Jerry Reese's failure to address that.
But Reese thinks the Giants line is in better shape than most people think.
He pointed to two young players in particular in an interview on WFAN on Monday afternoon as reasons to be hopeful about the future. Rather than stock up on young linemen from a draft class that the Giants simply thought was unappealing, he chose to ride instead with two young tackles: 23-year-old Ereck Flowers and 22-year-old Bobby Hart.
"(They're) almost kind of developmental," Reese said. "(They have) some ups and downs as young players, but we expect those guys to make a significant jump this season because they've been in the league already. Those guys could have been in this draft class."
Those two players do have a lot of experience for players so young. The much-maligned Flowers has been the starting left tackle for two seasons, while Hart, a seventh-round pick from 2015, started 13 games for the Giants last season.
Neither has been great, but they've shown enough promise that the Giants didn't want to "reach" into a draft class that most scouts around the league viewed as mostly subpar. The one exception for the Giants was Utah tackle Garett Bolles, the player whom SNY reported would have been their pick at 23 had he been available. Once the Denver Broncos selected Bolles at 20, there wasn't another lineman in the class that the Giants viewed as a Day 1 starter, according a team source.
And the Giants kept passing on linemen as the draft went along until the sixth round, when they traded up for tackle Adam Bisnowaty, a 6-foot-6, 304-pound, four-year starter out of Pittsburgh whom Reese compared to a long-time Giants starter, David Diehl.
"He's tough, he's big and he's going to bring the same intensity every day," Reese said. "You know what you're going to get every day from this guy. I just saw guys in this past [veteran] free agent group make millions of dollars with the same skill-set."
Reese is also high on two offensive linemen signed by the Giants as undrafted free agents that he said "we really like" -- USC's Chad Wheeler (a 6-7 306-pounder who was so coveted the Giants gave him a $20,000 signing bonus) and Tennessee State lineman Jessamen Dunker (6-4, 318). Both apparently had the talent to be drafted, but slipped to the UDFA market because of off-field concerns.
"Wheeler was a left tackle at USC," Reese said. "He had some issues. I think probably the reason he didn't get drafted is there were some off-field issues people were concerned with. But to get him as a free agent, we feel like he has a chance if he has his head on right."
Wheeler's off-field issue was an incident with police at his Los Angeles apartment in 2015 when he was a junior at USC. According to reports, police found him punching walls and windows inside his apartment, possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police fired "bean bag rounds" at him to subdue him, and while he was not arrested he was sent to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
Dunker was arrested during his redshirt year at Florida for stealing a motor scooter. The incident led to his decision to transfer to Tennessee State.
The fact that Reese brought up their names so quickly during a post-draft radio interview is certainly a strong indication that they'll be given a good chance to make the Giants roster this summer. And there certainly are openings for now and for the future. Flowers and Hart are clearly part of that future. But Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and D.J. Fluker are all unsigned beyond 2017.