The Giants got younger on their offensive line with the signing of D.J. Fluker, who turns 26 on Monday and will likely move in as the starting right guard, displacing 30-year old John Jerry, who is a free agent.
But did the Giants get better at that position?
Jerry’s asset was his pass protection and his liability was that despite his massive 340-pound body, he lacked any explosion as a run blocker. Fluker is equally large (339 pounds) and is reputed to be a better run blocker than he is a pass blocker. So, did the Giants get a younger player with a different skill set to fill one hole but create another?
The Giants were high on Fluker coming out of Alabama back in 2013 and likely would have taken him with the 19th overall pick in the NFL draft that year. Fluker, though, was selected by the Chargers at No. 11. The Giants, looking for offensive line help, at No. 19 took Justin Pugh out of Syracuse.
In four seasons with the Chargers, Fluker was durable — he started 59 of a possible 64 regular-season games — and showed some versatility, starting his first two years at right tackle and his last two years at right guard. He fared significantly better outside at tackle, according to Pro Football Focus, which graded him at 71.4 and 77.0 in his two years at tackle and 57.7 and 63.7 in his two years at guard. Fluker allowed 4.5 sacks in 2016, and PFF was not impressed with his run-blocking, giving him a grade of 46.0.
The Giants are not exactly set at right tackle, with Bobby Hart — a 2015 seventh-round pick from Florida State — the incumbent starter, but hardly an established starter.
“Wherever they want me to be successful and the team to be successful,’’ Fluker said. “They’ll move me around a little bit. Wherever they want to put me is fine.”
The Chargers liked everything about Fluker as a person and teammate, but were unwilling to keep him on the roster at a guaranteed salary of $8.8 million, and thus was released.
“Few players have shown the amount of passion and dedication that D.J. has shown for us the last four years,’’ Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said last week when Fluker was cut. “D.J. was the ultimate teammate who gave every ounce of effort he had to help our team.’’
Fluker, who signed a modest one-year, $3 million contract in an attempt to reset his value, said, “I’m definitely looking forward to a new start. Hopefully, I can make a big impact on the offensive line. I think the Giants give me the best opportunity to be successful.”
Giants general manager Jerry Reese this offseason has signed three players on the offensive side of the ball: Receiver Brandon Marshall, tight end Rhett Ellison and Fluker.
“D.J. is a young, versatile big man with lots of starts in this league,” Reese said. “He will bring size, toughness and competition to our offensive-line unit.”
There is a chance Jerry is re-signed and the Giants are certainly not finished reshaping their offensive line. They had virtually no competition on the roster in 2016, a failing they want to correct this year.
With the signing of tight end/fullback Ellison, the Giants have released Will Johnson, who never played a down for them. Johnson, signed last year from the Steelers, suffered a neck burner injury in training camp and spent the season on injured reserve. There is a chance Johnson could return on a reduced salary.
Published at Mon, 13 Mar 2017 04:10:43 +0000