The New York Giants signing of veteran D.J. Fluker is a worthwhile gamble for an offensive line in need of a talent infusion.
The New York Giants have been pretty quiet in terms of dollars handed out in free agency. The franchise tag for Jason Pierre-Paul is occupying about half of the money that the Giants came into free agency with. Despite the limited funds, the Giants have done well filling some holes.
The Giants filled their need for a third receiver by signing veteran Brandon Marshall to a team-friendly two-year, $12 million deal. He fills the void left by Victor Cruz and gives the Giants something their offense was lacking in size at the receiver position.
Marshall will also improve the Giants run blocking, which was the reason for signing Rhett Ellison. The versatile tight end will greatly upgrade the Giants run blocking from the tight end spot, and can play fullback as well.
The Giants addressed yet another need with their latest signing. Jerry Reese finally landed a veteran offensive lineman, as the Giants agreed to a one-year deal with former San Diego Charger D.J. Fluker.
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Fluker was selected 11th overall in 2013 but has not lived up to expectations. He has experience at both tackle and guard, which the Giants like. He has also been durable, missing only five games in four seasons and starting 59 games. But, the he has been up-and-down throughout his career.
Fluker was decent as a right tackle in his first two seasons in the NFL. He was moved inside to guard in 2015 and the results have worsened. He had the worst season of his career in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus, finishing with a grade of 57.7 He improved in 2016, finishing with a grade of 63.7, but that was only good for 54th out of 73 qualifying guards.
Fluker has had his struggles, but he can upgrade the Giants offensive line, depending on where he is used. Last season the Giants had arguably the worst tackle duo in the NFL in Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart. Both were pitiful against the pass, finishing 65th and 69th respectively out of 74. But, against the run, both were more than respectable.
Out of 79 qualifying tackles, Flowers ranked 27th, while Hart ranked 35th. Fluker was brutal against the run last season, ranking 61st out of 70 guards. But, as a pass blocker, Fluker was better. While ranking 48th isn’t great, his 75.9 grade almost doubles Flowers and more than doubles Hart.
The Giants now have some pieces that can excel in different facets of the game; it is just a matter of seeing how they fit. Can the Giants afford to try Fluker at left tackle? Or will they try their hand with Flowers for one more season to see if things click?
There is no doubt that Fluker upgrades the Giants pass protection. But, the Giants should not be done along the offensive line. If they want the line to truly improve, they need to retain John Jerry.
Jerry played very well for the Giants last season, grading out as the 33rd ranked guard in the NFL last season. Bringing him back would give the Giants six offensive lineman that excel in either run blocking, pass blocking, or both.
The Giants may not have one unit to stick to with, but the pieces are improving. Fluker can help the pass protection, and with a little shuffling around the unit can improve as a whole. Adding veteran talent, especially on the cheap, is a win for Reese and company. Now, they will have to wait and see if something can click for their younger players as Fluker and Flowers have high draft
Adding veteran talent, especially on the cheap, is a win for Reese and company. Now, they will have to wait and see if something can click for their younger players as Fluker and Flowers have high draft pedigrees, but have yet to live up to the hype.