It is easy to connect the dots. The New York Giants drafted offensive lineman Bobby Hart in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and in limited pre- and regular season opportunities Hart showed promise. The Giants released veteran offensive linemen Geoff Schwartz and Will Beatty just a few days ago. That must mean they believe Hart is ready for a bigger role. Right? Hart does not look at it that way.
"It's just an opportunity for me to show what I can do and just continue to work," Hart said during an exclusive interview with Big Blue View. "I don't feel like I had something to do with it. It just is how things turned out and I just plan on taking that opportunity."
We are early in the offseason, with both free agency and the 2016 NFL Draft to come. It is entirely possible that the Giants invest significant resources in upgrading the two spots on the right side of the offensive line that appear, to the outside world, to be weaknesses. Right guard John Jerry and right tackle Marshall Newhouse are the incumbents. Both are experienced, but severely flawed players.
As things stand now the belief has to be that Hart, who won't turn 22 until late August, will be given a chance to win one of those two jobs.
When the Giants made the 6-foot-5, 329-pound Hart the 226th selection in last year's draft he was a 20-year-old right tackle saw as a long-term project they hoped would eventually be a useful player for them at guard.
"He's played a lot of ball at a high level of competition for Florida State," general manager Jerry Reese said at the time. "I see guys like that with his skill set. We see them every Sunday playing in the National Football League."
Beatty's injury and a lack of depth behind Newhouse on the outside pretty much scuttled the Giants' initial plan to have Hart transition inside. He worked there quite a bit, but the 152 snaps he played during the regular season were almost exclusively at either right tackle or as an extra tight end.
Hart credited former Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty and assistant offensive line coach Lunda Wells for helping him improve.
"Throughout the year, I definitely got better. I still have a long way to go, light years to go, but I just see myself getting better just putting in the work with those guys. They just did a great job," Hart said. "As far as my growth as a player I owe all of it to those two."
In addition to working to refine his technique, Hart learned one other thing about what it will take for him to succeed in the NFL.
"You can't be strong enough. Strong isn't strong enough. The stronger you are the better chance you have when you're going against some great athletes every Sunday," Hart said. "You might be able to get by for a little while not being strong enough ... definitely being strong is one of the main points I'm working on right now."
During the Reese era, the Giants have made several attempts to find and develop offensive linemen on Day 3 of the draft. None has panned out. No one from the group of Adam Koets (2007, Round 6), Mitch Petrus (2010, Round 5), James Brewer (2011, Round 4), Brandon Mosley (2012, Round 4), Matt McCants (2012, Round 6), and Eric Herman (2013, Round 7) ever became regular players for the Giants.
Hart showed enough in 2015 to think that the Giants may finally hit with one of their late-round offensive line gambits.
What makes Hart believe he can succeed where all of those other Giants' late-round draft picks fell short?
"My pedigree," he said. "Where I come from and the caliber of football that I've played."
Hart played on a state and national championship team at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida, and started for two years at Florida State, playing on the Seminoles team that won the national championship in 2013.
"We won a lot of games at those two places. I know what winning is, I know how good it feels to win and also the grind that you have to put into winning. I know what it takes to be successful," Hart said.
"My best years are ahead of me maturing and understanding what it takes to be successful and not just playing out there. You've gotta love just putting time into something that you call your craft, something that you want to do.
"I feel like I'm going to be and will be a player in this league."
The Giants certainly hope so.
Hart will be holding a football camp this summer at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Follow him at @IGotHart on Twitter for more details.