Photo via Stony Brook University’s Flickr
Call me an overly optimistic Giants fan, but there isn’t a whole lot out there on the free agent market right now that would represent a financially worthwhile upgrade for the Giants. Sure there are some semi-over-the-hill linebackers (Ayanbadejo, Bart Scott, Takeo Spikes) that would provide leadership and experience to an otherwise rag tag core of LBs, but getting them to come down to an affordable level for the Giants doesn’t seem feasible.
As for signing Vonta Leach to a multiyear deal to the tune of roughly $3 million per season, this seems like it would be the sort of ‘name grab’ signing that Jerry Reese has been so adamant about avoiding. Hynoski is the perfect fullback for Gilbride’s offense, and while he may be out for Week 1, Bear Pascoe can do a more than capable job filling his shoes until he returns. The money required to sign Leach, would be much better spent elsewhere.
So where should it go?
The answer is the offensive line. First priority is obviously to get Justin Pugh under contract, but there is also a local monster of an offensive tackle that the Giants could land as well. Michael Bamiro, is a 6’8″, 344 pound behemoth that has spent the past three years in the Giants backyard as a cornerstone for one of the fastest rising college football programs in the country, Stony Brook University.
In addition to his size, Bamiro is sound in terms of technique, intelligent and one hell of an athlete. He held a pro day style workout July 11th in New Jersey, and it was pretty much unanimous among the scouts from the 22 squads (including the Giants) in attendance that he was extremely impressive. He didn’t do any timed drills, but he showed great athleticism and balance during positional drills. Bamiro is also in possession of the incredibly long arms (measuring 36 & 1/8″) that a lot of Justin Pugh’s detractors were clambering about when the Giants drafted him back in April. In fact, had he been eligible for the draft this year, Bamiro would have had the 4th longest wingspan of all linemen at the combine.
So why wasn’t Bamiro eligible for the draft?
Don’t worry it wasn’t some sort of suspension or character issue. In fact, he tried to parlay his eligibility into pursuing his masters degree. The problem was due to several transfers and a red shirt year (Bamiro spent two years pursuing academic excellence at UPitt as a non-athlete before deciding he wanted to give football a try), he had used up all of his eligibility. Unfortunately, it took the N.C.A.A until way after the draft to determine this was the case.
At Stony Brook, Bamiro started 36 out of 39 games and was all conference last season. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, which means he could probably write this article better than I am currently doing. His coach Chuck Priore recently gushed over him in a Newsday article, saying “He’s been a major part of the road to success not only as a player but as a person. He never missed a practice, never missed a game because of injury. He stands for hard work and toughness, and he’s a good person.”
Where can I get a letter of recommendation like that?
Yes, Bamiro is far from perfect, and will need some polish. He’s only really played in a run-centric offense and is still a little cumbersome in passing scenarios. But he’s a brick wall on running plays, having proven his ability to dominate both bigger defensive ends and speed rushers alike. Not too mention his size, work ethic and raw athleticism alone make him an intriguing option.
The biggest question with Bamiro is where he would fit on the Giants offensive line. First thing to note is that he would not be stepping immediately into a starting roll. He’s a project, and as much as the Long Islander in me loves Stony Brook, he wasn’t exactly competing in the SEC for the past few years. Chances are he’ll spend a year on the taxi squad before competing for a spot on the active roster, most likely at right tackle. The Giants are currently grooming Justin Pugh there, but Pugh is versatile and could easily make the shift to guard. With a lot of the staples in the trenches reaching the point of retiring for the Giants, we could be looking at a newly rebuilt offensive line before this one is even out the door. If you ask me, a starting front of Michael Bamiro (RT), Justin Pugh (RG), Jim Cordle (C), Kevin Boothe (LG) and Will Beatty (LT) in 2015 wouldn’t be too bad of a scenario for the Giants.
Well maybe shop for a new center if Bass leaves or retires…
If the Giants can sign Bamiro relatively cheap, this is a strong move. If nothing else he’ll push Pugh to stay on top of his game, knowing that Bamiro is right on his tail in the depth chart. Best case scenario, Pugh and Bamiro form a dominant right side of the line for the next decade or so. After all, the Giants have done well for themselves in the past signing local guys as undrafted free agents (Victor Cruz, Keith Elias).
Maybe Bamiro can develop into the next hometown hero for Big Blue.
ESPN ‘s NFL Live Discussing Michael Bamiro
Stony Brook Athletics Website
New York Giants Website