Accounting for impending free agents, the Giants do not have a long term answer at four out of five positions on their offensive line. And that is assuming that Ereck Flowers can build on a season in which he only showed marginal improvement in technique -- though he did go eight weeks without giving up a sack, and only gave up three in fifteen games.
However, with Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, D.J. Fluker, and Brett Jones all free agents, the stage may be set for the Giants to “change the transmission” as Pat Shurmur put it. Not only will they need to find answers at left guard, right guard, and right tackle, but both of their starting centers are on the list as well.
As it so happens, the interior offensive line class is strong this year, and the Giants could find a center to fit whatever blocking scheme they decide to build their offense on. If they want a more athletic zone scheme, they could look to Iowa center James Daniels.
- Easy mover. Natural blocker in zone blocking schemes, gets to the second level quickly and moves well pulling or on screens.
- Good frame for the position with long arms and a big “bubble”.
- Reliable pass protector and flashes dominance when he drops his hips and gets leverage.
- Shows the requisite “nasty” and frequently blocks through the whistle.
- Deals well with stunts, twists, and blitzes.
- Undersized by NFL standards and might need to add upper-body strength.
- Might be limited to a zone blocking scheme at the next level.
- Inaccurate blocker at the second level. Sometimes seems to get there before the play does.
- Powerful lower body, but doesn’t uncoil and “jolt” defenders.
What they’re saying
James Daniels/C/Iowa: When there’s a conversation on future NFL centers from the Big Ten, the names usually mentioned are Michigan’s Mason Cole and Billy Price of Ohio State. Iowa’s James Daniels, the name often left out, is not far behind and should be included in the narrative. Daniels was dominant during the Hawkeyes’ victory over highly rated Ohio State and on several occasions knocked several of their talented defensive tackles off the line and back to the second level. He’s a well-built lineman with the athleticism and agility to play in a zone-blocking scheme. We stamped Daniels as a third-round prospect entering the season but he has the skill and potential to move further north on draft boards.
- DraftAnalyst (Week 10 risers)
Center isn’t exactly a position of “need” for the Giants, they already have a pair of talented options on the roster in Weston Richburg and Brett Jones.
However, both are impending free agents, and its possible that neither will be on the roster next year. Richburg’s injury history and asking price might force the Giants to let him walk, and if the Giants simply use the a tender on Jones, another team might offer more than they want to pay.
In that case, Daniels wouldn’t be a bad option. Assuming Pat Shurmur bases the Giants running game on the outside zone scheme he used in Minnesota, Daniels would be a natural fit and likely wouldn’t cost the draft capital that Price or Cole would.