Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Giants have eyes for Alabama giant
By Ohm Youngmisuk ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- At 6-foot-4 and 339 pounds, D.J. Fluker is a giant-sized man.
And Jerry Reese certainly would like to make Fluker a New York Giant on Thursday night.
The Giants would be thrilled if the monstrous Alabama tackle is there when they pick at 19. Fluker's confidence is almost as big as his stature. He says the Giants would be getting a "high-energy" offensive lineman with uncanny leadership skills.
D.J. Fluker brings high-energy leadership along with his massive frame.
"I tell everybody, any man can lead an army," Fluker said at an NFL Play 60 youth football clinic at Chelsea Waterside Park. "But it takes a leader to lead his army to war and be the victor. That is what I did. I was the general. That is how we won championships."
The Giants have drafted just one offensive lineman (Luke Petitgout in 1999) in the first round since 1990.
But Fluker would give the Giants some much-needed youth and size and a potential future leader on the offensive line.
The Giants' offensive line has championship experience, but Chris Snee and David Baas are both 31 and coming off offseason surgeries. David Diehl and Kevin Boothe are on one-year deals and it remains to be seen whether James Brewer, who can also play guard, is the long-term answer at right tackle opposite left tackle Will Beatty.
Fluker will certainly inject a positive energy on any team he joins.
"You got to go out there and earn respect," said Fluker, who spoke with offensive line coach Pat Flaherty at Alabama's pro day. "And be humble. But I am still going to be D.J. Fluker -- the high-energy guy, bring it every day at practice because ... when you get a guy like D.J. Fluker from Alabama, there is no regrets."
Fluker, though, is projected by many to go before the Giants pick. If that's the case, the Giants will look at safety. Texas prospect Kenny Vaccaro and LSU's Eric Reid are possibilities at 19 if Fluker is gone.
The 6-foot, 214-pound Vaccaro is considered the top safety in the draft.
"I play a number of positions," the confident Vaccaro said. "You can't put me out of position. I don't think I have very many limitations. I'll play nickel. [West Virginia's] Tavon [Austin], I was chasing him around. They are not going to ask a safety to do that.
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"I take pride in being a complete safety," he added. "I will come knock you out and I'll lock you up. I think I am the most complete safety in the draft."
And Vaccaro thinks this is "one of the best safety classes coming along in the last decade." So if he's not there at 19, Reid is another safety the Giants like. Reese has drafted two players from LSU in the past three drafts.
The Giants could use a young safety with Kenny Phillips in Philadelphia and Stevie Brown playing on a one-year tender. Also, the 2014 season is the last year of Antrel Rolle's contract.
Reid would love to be teammates with mentor Corey Webster, the former LSU cornerback who tutors young LSU defensive backs like Reid and Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu.
The 6-1, 213-pound Reid also describes himself as a player who would fit exactly what the Giants look for in the back -- a safety who can play both free and strong safety spots.
"I actually think I am very 50-50," Reid said of which position he considers himself to be. "That is what I did at LSU and am comfortable doing both.
"My strength is my ability to learn," Reid added. "I am very cerebral, I know the defense, I know what the guys around me are supposed to do, I take pride in getting everybody lined up and making the checks or clearing up the confusion. I also think I'm versatile [and] can cover the slot and in the post."
If the safeties the Giants want are gone, another candidate at 19 is a Notre Dame prospect. While the Giants did bring in Irish middle linebacker Manti Te'o for a visit (Reese said Te'o made a good impression), Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is on the Giants' radar.
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The Giants typically don't value the tight end position enough to use a first-round pick. However, Eifert is a talented prospect and the Giants have a revolving door at tight end with Brandon Myers set to be the fourth starting tight end in as many years.
But the Giants would like to bolster their offensive line with a massive tackle like Fluker. And a recent incident involving his Twitter account probably won't deter the Giants. Fluker and his agent claim someone hacked into his account and tweeted that he accepted money while in college.
"No, it was not me," Fluker said. "It was hacked. I didn't [take money]."
Fluker, whose Twitter account is deactivated for now, said teams are not worried about the incident "because they know it is not me."
"I am one of those guys that will bring it every single play," he said. "So I am the guy with the high energy. When it comes down to it, when it is in that fourth quarter, I am that guy you want to go to. That's how it is."