New York Giants Newest Free Agent Pickup Will Johnson Could Be This Offseason’s Most Underrated Signing
By Neal Lynch
The New York Giants signed free agent fullback / H-back Will Johnson, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to a two-year deal and it could be the one of the biggest and best acquisitions of this eventful offseason. Why?
Because Big Blue has four tight ends on the roster – Larry Donnell, Will Tye, Jerome Cunningham, and Matt LaCosse – all of whom aren’t terribly good at blocking. Nikita Whitlock was the incumbent starter at fullback, having beat out Henry Hynoski in preseason last year, but was more effective on special teams and as an interior pass rusher. There are reports that Whitlock, who was listed at 5 feet 10 inches and 251 pounds, is beefing up even more to become a legitimate threat on passing downs. Then, there’s the offensive line, which appears to be solidified on the left side, but remains questionable on the right.
With Will Johnson, the Giants can improve upon their dreadful third-and-short and goal line conversions. The team hasn’t seen consistently decent production out of the fullback or H-back position in some time. Bear Pascoe provided a steady presence in the 2011 championship season. Daniel Fells was very dependable run-blocking and that resulted in a few short touchdown catches off the play-action. Madison Hedgecock was a bruiser and Henry Hynoski had his moments.
The Giants won’t have to rely on Will Johnson that often. The most popular alignment on offense for the G-Men has three wide receivers, a halfback, and a tight end. However, how many times has the drive stalled on a very manageable third down? How many games could’ve been won with touchdowns and not field goals?
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Will Johnson made Pro Football Focus’ Midseason All-Rookie Team in 2012 and PFF’s All-Third-Year Team in 2014. He caught the eye of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin at West Virginia’s Pro Day and though he went undrafted, he ended up signing with Pittsburgh where he paved the way for Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, and DeAngelo Williams.