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Thoughts on the offensive, line, the draft, Jason Witten, more

Lots of topics to discuss in this week’s ‘Valentine’s Views’

Tampa Bay Bucaneers v New England Patriots
Nate Solder
Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

In honor of Kentucky Derby winner Justify let’s justify your visit here today with some thought regarding your New York Giants.

Seriously, Chris?

In his analysis of the offensive line a few days ago, our Chris Pflum said that “it’s difficult to say” whether or not the Giants have “fixed” their offensive line.

Chris also appeared to imply that he’s not sure the line is better than it was a year ago, writing:

Complicating matters is that they let their three most talented offensive linemen leave in the process of rebuilding the offensive line. They reasons to move on from each — Pugh’s health, Richburg’s cost, and Fluker’s mobility (assuming Pat Shurmur wants to use more outside zone running plays). But that doesn’t change the fact that they watched three talented players — two of whom are among the best in the NFL at their positions — walk out the door.

So, have the Giants succeeded in improving their offensive line? It’s likely that they will certainly play better this year — especially considering they never fielded what could have been their best line-up last year. Whether they are a definitive improvement remains to be seen.

C’mon now, Chris! Of course the offensive line as currently constructed is better than what the Giants fielded last season.

There is one simple reason. Nate Solder is the left tackle and Ereck Flowers isn’t. That means the Giants have a quality, capable pro protecting the blind side for Eli Manning instead of under-achieving, inconsistent, moody player who should have been moved before last season. The Giants got better at the position on the line that prevailing wisdom says matters most.

Lengthy streak of snaps without surrendering a sack or not, Flowers’ grade of 51.5 from Pro Football Focus still put him in the “poor” category.

Here are Solder’s three-year grades.

I will argue that the combination of Will Hernandez and Patrick Omameh, whichever sides they play, will be as good or better than the Justin Pugh-John-Jerry-D.J. Fluker-Jon Halapio group that manned those spots last year. With far more upside. Of course, they actually have to go on the field and prove it.

Let’s also clarify something about Omameh. He was a 16-game starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at right guard in 2014, and also played there some for the Chicago Bears in 2015. If the Giants ask him to play the right side, that should be a non-issue.

I loved Fluker and I thought he might be back, but let’s get over it. The guy is a one-dimensional straight-ahead power run blocker who doesn’t move well and is a liability in pass protection. He isn’t what the new coaching staff was looking for.

Brett Jones replacing Weston Richburg? I understood it financially, but Richburg is a better player. Jones, though, is certainly capable. As for right tackle, it was a total disaster last year when Pugh wasn’t playing it, and it really wasn’t great when he was.

I am worried about the depth on this group, particularly at tackle. And obviously we have to see what happens when the games start. I am optimistic, though, about this group.

Podcasts you really shouldn’t miss

Patricia Traina and yours truly may not be the most exciting folks to listen to on a podcast. We are both writers first, and broadcasters because the business requires it. Still, in my view we do a really worthwhile show at ‘Locked on Giants.’ We had two shows this week that you really need to listen to if you haven’t done so already:

Coming up this week

The Giants will hold their rookie mini-camp on Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12. We will, of course, have coverage of the mini-camp as it occurs and plenty of features leading up to that.

Undrafted free agent signings still haven’t been officially announced by the Giants. We will have the list, and some scouting reports, once the list is made available.

Also this week, we will begin our annual series of profiles of the players on the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

Goodbye, Jason Witten

Giants fans, and defenders, won’t miss you.

Witten was an All-Pro twice and went to 11 Pro Bowls in a 15-year career, and it seems like he accomplished most of that by torturing Giants’ defenders.

Witten had 154 receptions in 30 games against the Giants — yes, I know it seemed like 1,054. That’s his high against any team. He torched the Giants for 15 career touchdowns, while not hitting double digits in that department vs. any other team.

Good luck in your new career, Jason. Thank you for finally putting the Giants out of their misery.

Judging the draft

The Giants’ 2018 draft has been drawing lots of praise from around the Inter-Google. Lance Zierlein placed it No. 1 in his draft power rankings and listed four rookies among its top 100.

A week removed from the draft I really like what the Giants did. The Saquon Barkley-Sam Darnold-Bradley Chubb debate will rage for years, and I personally still wish the Giants had gotten an offensive tackle somewhere along the way, but each pick is understandable and has the potential to help the Giants.

The Giants got a stud running back, a starting offensive line and a potential quarterback of the future for their offense. They got a guy with edge rushing potential and two useful linemen for a revamped defensive line.

Not a lot to complain about.