The 6-foot-4, 330-pound former offensive tackle has largely gone unnoticed by fans. In part, that is because he is a seventh-round selection, but it also has to do with the excitement for the Giants' first three picks and the furor over the selection of Mykkele Thompson in the fifth round.
However, Hart could prove to be one of the more interesting players to follow throughout the lead-up to the 2015 season. Though he played tackle in college, the Giants are projecting Hart to guard, where his aforementioned size, as well as long arms, big hands, and powerful lower body, will play well. In addition to his physical tools, Hart also reportedly has the kind of mental make-up that the Giants' coaches will love.
But beyond that, Hart comes into the NFL with the rare combination of tremendous on-field experience -- and at one of the top programs in the country -- while still being one of the youngest players in the draft.
Hart came out of Florida State as a 20-year-old senior, playing in most of Florida State's games in 2011 and 2012 (at left tackle and guard respectively) and starting every game at right tackle in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Those last two seasons, of course, culminated in National Championship games, giving Hart valuable experience on the biggest stages. But despite all that college experience, Hart is one of the youngest players on the Giants' roster at 20 years old (21 in August).
The Giants have already said that they believe his future is at guard, so let's take a look and see how well he might project there.
The Giants want to convert Hart to a guard, and this first play gives us a good clue as to why.
Notre Dame is lined up in a 3-4 front, with their left end lined up at the 5-technique directly over Hart. The 5-tech comes on a straight bull-rush, and although Hart gets a bit upright off the snap, he does a decent job of anchoring and meeting power with power. He shows a wide base and decent knee bend to sink his hips, anchoring against the bull rush. As well, his punch and hand placement look pretty good, getting inside of the defender's shoulders.
However, not much else goes right with this play.
First off, the right guard and left tackle quickly lose their battles with the nose tackle and rush linebacker (respectively). The pressure from those two rushers prevent Jameis Winston from stepping up in the pocket. What is worse, is that he holds on to the ball, waiting for his downfield options to get separation, but they never do.
With Winston trying to prolong the play rather than throwing the ball away or quickly getting it to a checkdown option, Hart is only able to block his man for so long. When protection finally completely breaks down, Winston elects to heave the ball downfield while falling backwards, and Notre Dame comes up with the interception.
All in all, this play is a mess for Florida State, but it starts out pretty good for Hart.
Much like the first play, this play too shows why the Giants decided to draft Hart as a guard.
Notre Dame is once again in their 3-4 set, but this time they're showing a heavy blitz, with 7 players withing a yard or so of the line of scrimmage. They wind up sending five, with the middle linebacker coming on an A-gap blitz. The defensive end is also lined up a bit wider than last play, shading over Hart's right shoulder. That, combined with the outside move, forces Hart onto more of an island. Unfortunately, blocking in space is the biggest weakness in Hart's game. His hands get wide and frantic while his feet shuffle more than a proper choppy kick-slide. The result is Hart being beaten handily by the defensive end.
Hart was saved from giving up the sack by the blitzing linebacker getting through his gap largely untouched and being the first guy to reach Winston. This was an ugly one for Hart.
Now we get to see the strength of Hart's game: Punching the defense in the mouth and moving people.
This is an obvious run play. It's second and short, and FSU is lined up tight to punch the ball across the 1st down marker. While the receivers towards the bottom of the screen set up a screen play -- likely to threaten the pass and keep defenders out of the box -- they go for a simple outside zone run.
Hart gets a great jump off the line, staying low, keeping his hands inside, and exploding up through his block. He generates a ton of movement and actually pushes his guy about three yards past the first down, and definitely to the echo of the whistle.
Because Florida State didn't account for the run blitz there were two defenders with a free run at the running back, not to mention the center getting beat badly by his man. So, this play was never going to get much more than the two yards needed for the first down.
However, Hart was superb on this play.
For our last play, we'll take a look at Hart getting to the second level, and he does so with authority.
No, strike that. He does it with Authoritah.
At this point in the game Florida State is trying to drive down the field, burning as much clock as they can after (hopefully) getting the go-ahead score. They go with a two tight end, two back (22) heavy set and a power run play, ultimately running behind Hart.
Notre Dame stacks the box, showing a 5-3 front, but motion to a 4-4 front right before the snap. Hart gets a release to the second level and picks up the linebacker that was lined up as a defensive end before the snap. The 221 pound linebacker had absolutely no chance as the 330-pound Hart hits him like an irate bull. Hart puts the linebacker on rollerskates and shoves him a good six yards back, and finishes the block with a shove to the ground for good measure.
Tight end Kevin Haplea gets a nice block on the defensive end while Hart blows open the hole at the second level. Unfortunately, Haplea can't quite sustain the block and the defensive end helps to make the tackle from behind.
The result is a respectable five to six yard gain for the offense. The offense is ahead of schedule and the clock is still ticking, which is exactly what they were hoping for in this situation. But for our purposes, this might as well have been a breakaway 26-yard touchdown scamper, Hart's block was that good.
There are two questions to answer for Bobby Hart:
1) Did the Giants make the right move, drafting him to play guard?
2) Does he have a shot at making the roster?
The answer to number 1, I think, is "Yes". Lance Zierlein said when Hart was drafted that he thinks he will surprise and shine as a guard, and I tend to agree. It might not happen right away, but Hart looks almost custom built to be a right guard in the NFL. He has natural leverage at 6-4 with 33-inch arms, and a booty made to Sir-Mix-Alot specifications. Hart is at his worst when asked to block edge rushers in space, but at his best when he can use that leverage and powerful base to go at defenders. Moving inside to guard will play to those strengths.
The second question is a lot tougher to answer. While Hart has a surprising amount of experience at a high level for such a young player, he is transitioning inside, and that will take time. He is also in a fight with more experienced players like Brandon Mosley, Dallas Reynolds, and Eric Herman for the second backup position.
Because Hart is so young and only really offers depth at a position he is just now learning, it seems likely that he is a practice squad candidate while he develops. However, if he adjusts to guard sooner rather than later, he could force the Giants hand, and a difficult roster choice.