When reporters grilled Dave Gettlemen about his priorities for improving upon a 3-13 season, the newly installed New York Giants general manager didn’t hesitate.
“We’ve got to fix the O-line. Let’s be honest. Let’s not kid each other,” he said. “Big men allow you to compete, and that’s what we’ve got to fix.”
Here’s the Giants line from last year and their status entering 2018:
- Left tackle Ereck Flowers made 15 starts and is entering the final year of his contract.
- Left guard John Jerry made 15 starts and is signed through 2019. The Giants missed out on All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell, who is expected to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Center Brett Jones made 13 starts and was just yesterday offered a 1-year, $2.9 million contract offer. The San Francisco 49ers signed the Giants’ former starting center, Weston Richburg, who was felled by injuries.
- Right guard Jon Halapio made six starts and was just re-signed. He can also backup at center. John Greco was also re-signed, but he played sparingly last season. D.J. Fluker, who made six starts, is a unrestricted free agent.
- Right tackle Chad Wheeler made five starts and is signed through 2019. Justin Pugh, who has played this position as well as left guard, made eight starts last season and is also an unrestricted free agent.
While the Giants are still pursuing other options through free agency, they hold a few prized picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Could the miss on Norwell open the door for Quenton Nelson? Could Mike McGlinchey become the left-tackle-in-waiting?
To answer these questions — and a few others about the Giants’ interest in Equanimeous St. Brown and Josh Adams — I turned to Ed Valentine, editor-in-chief of Big Blue View, SB Nation’s site for New York Giants coverage.
Here’s our chat, which was conducted yesterday afternoon before the Giants announced their signing of former Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart.
OFD: No doubt a team that went 3-13 last season has a ton of needs. What positions did they need most -- and have they been able to resolve any of those through trades or free agency so far?
Ed Valentine: The Giants simply must fix the offensive line. It was the first thing new GM Dave Gettleman talked about, and depending on how things proceed in free agency you wonder if that will make Quenton Nelson a top target for them.
Catch us up on the interior linemen, because I think it speaks to the Giants’ potential interest in Quenton Nelson (and possibly Mike McGlinchey). The Giants missed on All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell, let center Weston Richburg go and re-signed center/guard Jon Halapio. What are they going to do with Justin Pugh and D.J. Fluker, as they are both free agents?
I don’t expect either Pugh or Fluker to be back. Even if the Giants miss out on Nelson and McGlinchey, I expect them to use the middle rounds of the draft to beef up the line.
If the Giants use the second pick instead of trading down, do you think they’ll target a QB or Saquon Barkley or, as Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has suggested, Quenton Nelson?
That’s a tough call. Quarterback? Barkley? Nelson? For me, there isn’t really a “wrong” answer. It really depends on how the feel about 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb, and whether or not they are in love with any of the QBs at the top of this draft. I just don’t know. If it’s me and I’m making the pick, I take a quarterback.
If Nelson is the Giants’ top priority, do you think they are more likely to take him at #2 or trade back? At this point, the teams most associated with Nelson in mock drafts are the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears, which all hold picks in the top 8.
I think they would trade back. The problem is, with who? Trading back when you have one guy in mind you really want is always a huge gamble because someone else might covet the guy and jump in front of you. Go down more than 2-3 spots and they might lose him.
Yahoo Sports’ Tank Williams has predicted the Giants will select Mike McGlinchey at #2. That seems insane, but do the Giants have interest in Nelson’s battery mate on the left side? If so, do you see them trading back into the first round to grab him? And if not, do you think they take McGlinchey if he’s still available at pick #34?
At No. 2 is completely insane. Whoever that guy is, I wouldn’t read his stuff anymore. At 34, he’s a possibility. I don’t think, though, he will get out of Round 1.
In his latest mock, Walter Cherepinsky from WalterFootball.com has the Giants using their third round pick on Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown. I’ve seen St. Brown anywhere from a first round pick to a seventh round pick. The Giants are not listed as one of St. Brown’s combine meetings. How big of a need is WR in this draft and do you think fans would be happy with St. Brown as the team’s third round selection?
Well, how big of a need it is depends. The Giants are expected to cut Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris, but haven’t done it yet. I could easily see the Giants using a mid-round pick on a wide receiver, and I’d think St. Brown is in that discussion.
Irish running back Josh Adams has been identified as a probable fifth-round selection. He was linked to the Giants last week in two mock drafts. Do the Giants have RB needs and do you see them using a Day 3 pick on a running back?
Yes, the Giants have running back needs. I think they will likely select a running back at some point, but let’s see how free agency plays out. It might be Barkley, it could be Sony Michel or Ronald Jones on Day 2. It could be someone on Day 3. One thing to keep in mind is that Pat Shurmur has expressed an interest in backs who are also accomplished pass catchers.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t ask you about past and current Giants-Irish connections. Who is your favorite Giant that also played for Notre Dame? Who is/was the biggest surprise? And who was the biggest disappointment?
Well, I will admit to being a Notre Dame fan. I’m old enough to remember the days when there was no cable TV and we used to watch the replays of Notre Dame football on Sunday mornings. That said, all that history is a bit much for me. My two favorite Giants from Notre Dame have to be Mark Bavaro and Justin Tuck. Great players first of all. I’m also old-school (read -- old) and that means I enjoyed the fact that both guys were no-nonsense football players. They weren’t about the headlines, the entertainment, drawing attention to themselves and all that. They just played football and let that speak for itself.
We thank Ed for his time during a busy week of free agency. You may follow Ed on Twitter at @bigblueview and @valentine_ed. And if you’re a Giants fan — like me! — be sure to visit Big Blue View for the latest in offseason moves and analysis.