When the New York Giants made Bobby Hart their seventh-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, one of the things they said attracted them to the Florida State offensive lineman was the fact that, at the tender age of 20, he is just a baby by NFL standards.
"We don't think that's a negative. They're developing and you can teach them as they go, grow and mature. That's not a negative for us. I think Michael Strahan was 20," GM Jerry Reese said after the draft. "We think that's a positive. If a guy is 25, that's more of a negative than a 20-year old. If you're 25, you're almost out of the league. When you're 25, you're almost gone."
Hart is used to being the youngest guy in the room. At 6-foot-5, 329 pounds definitely not the little. But youngest? Yes.
"I really don't think about it. I've been like that my entire life. I was 12 playing with 15-year-olds, then when I got to high school I was 13 playing with 16 and 17-year-olds. I just always was at an age disadvantage, so I really don't think about it," Hart said Friday after the Giants' first rookie mini-camp practice.
The Giants have not had much luck in recent seasons trying to draft and develop offensive linemen in the mid- to late rounds. James Brewer, a fourth-round pick in 2011, never made an impact and is now with the New York Jets. Brandon Mosley, 2014 fourth round, and Eric Herman, 2013 seventh round, have yet to make an impact.
Could Hart be different?
"He's played a lot of ball at a high level of competition for Florida State," Reese said. "I see guys like that with his skill set. We see them every Sunday playing in the National Football League."
Hart played guard as a sophomore at Florida State and said he worked primarily at guard during the pre-draft process. He said things "happen a lot faster" at guard.
"You've gotta be ready. Tackle it doesn't happen as fast, but you've got more room for error. Guard you have no room for error. One missed hand or anything and they're by you," Hart said. "Tackle if you miss a little bit if you're athletic enough you can run ‘em past. You've got to be more of a perfectionist."
Will the Giants hit with Hart where they seem to have missed with some other young linemen?
"He is a big, competitive kid. He is smart. He is very young. He started as a freshman at Florida State, and he is still only 20-21 years old," Ross said. "He has played a lot of football for a young player at a high level, obviously for a winning program, so those are the things you have to think that he is not going to come here and be intimidated by anything."