The New York Giants have confirmed the return of former offensive tackle, Malcolm Bunche, just hours after cutting Austin Droogsma. The Giants’ experiment with Droogsma appears to be over, at least for the short-to-medium term, with Bunche drafted back into the Giants’ roster. Bunche, who originally hails from Detroit, was undrafted when leaving UCLA back in 2015. However, he’s trained for long periods with the likes of the Eagles, the Jaguars and the Giants since.
In fact, the Giants took a chance on Bunche last summer, only to waive him at the start of the 2018-19 season in September. Although he’s never been part of an active NFL roster, it seems that this year could finally be his turning point. Bunche does have experience playing in the nearby Canadian Football League across the border, as well as the now-closed Alliance of American Football.
The Giants’ offensive line certainly needed shaking up after last season. Pro Football Focus ranked the Giants’ offensive talent 21st in the entire NFL last term, which was hardly a glowing endorsement of their attributes. This coming season, the Giants’ latest recruit Bunche will be battling alongside old-time Giants guards such as Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler and Nick Gates.
Can the Giants get Bunche’s mindset right?
There’s no doubt that Bunche cuts an imposing, physical presence on the football field. At six foot six inches and weighing in at 310 pounds, Bunche has all the credentials to make his mark in NFL. In 2018, reports suggested that Bunche’s mindset was one of the main things that was holding him back from turning his potential into reality. An AFC West scout once revealed that the UCLA coaching staff were “really disappointed with what they got” from Bunche during his final year in college football. The scout added that Bunche “thinks he’s way better than he actually is”.
The bottom line for Bunche is that he almost certainly knows he has the physical attributes to be a success as an NFL tackle or guard, but no coach thus far has managed to coax consistency into his game. It could be that the Giants coaching staff believe Bunche has the credentials to become an effective guard. His size and solid anchor make him a prime candidate for that role, but the same AFC West scout insists he needs to work on generating enough leverage from his base to block offensive opponents with raw power.
Has Gettleman got it wrong for 2019-20?
The fact that the Giants are having to take a punt on untapped potential in the likes of Malcolm Bunche underlines where the franchise is right now. There are concerns that general manager Dave Gettleman has sleep-walked into a potentially torrid 2019-20 NFL season. Oddschecker’s Super Bowl LIV outrights market suggests that the Giants are rank outsiders to win the prestigious trophy in 2020, with several draft mistakes in the offseason likely to cost the Giants dearly.
Leading wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and leading pass rusher Olivier Vernon, have both left the roster, while Gettleman once again overlooked securing the services of Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in favor of running back Saquon Barkley. All this means that the Giants will once again be heavily reliant upon veteran quarterback Eli Manning. At the age of 38, Manning needs young talent around him and it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll only be able to rely on having Barkley and tight end Evan Engram at his disposal.
It doesn’t help that the Giants’ wideout, Golden Tate, is banned from playing the opening four games of the season for violating NFL legislation on performance-enhancing substances. Jeff Davis, sportsbook director at Caesars in Las Vegas, says that all the news coming out of the Giants “screams a mess”. The one saving grace for the Giants? Davis admitted that playing the Redskins twice could be the only thing that stops them from finishing at the foot of the NFC East.