Why Orlando Franklin Must Be at Top of New York Giants' Free-Agent Wish List

Kevin Boilard@@KevinBoilardCorrespondent IJanuary 20, 2015

Orlando Franklin is under contract with the Denver Broncos until March.
Orlando Franklin is under contract with the Denver Broncos until March.Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

General manager Jerry Reese and others within the New York Giants organization are experiencing a painful case of buyer's remorse. After shelling out more than $116 million to players on the open market last offseason, the Giants won only six games in 2014.

Perhaps turned off by the lack of success he had last spring, Reese said that the Giants aren't going to spend a "huge amount" in free agency this time around, according to Tom Rock of Newsday.

Although Reese plans to pinch his pennies, one player should get the GM to open up his wallet.

That player is Orlando Franklin.

Franklin, a versatile offensive lineman, has expressed interest in staying with the Broncos beyond the expiration of his rookie contract in March, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post.

However, with the entire Denver coaching staff ousted and Mike Klis of The Denver Post reporting that quarterback Peyton Manning might be mulling retirement, the team could be headed in a totally new direction in 2015.

If Franklin becomes a free agent for whatever reason, the Giants shouldn't hesitate to strike.

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Franklin is a massive blocker (6'6", 315 lbs) who played his college ball at the University of Miami. Drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft (46th overall), Franklin played right tackle for his first three professional seasons. He then became the Broncos' starting left guard in 2014.

Orlando Franklin's Career with Denver
YEARPOSITIONGAMESSTARTSOFF. RANK
2011RT161623rd
2012RT16154th
2013RT15161st
2014LG16164th
ESPN.com

Regardless of position, Franklin has been a mainstay in Denver's offense. The lineman has started every game of his four-year career, with the exception of one outing in 2013.

Over the last three seasons, Franklin's Broncos have never ranked outside the top five in terms of total offense. Denver's offense ranked No. 1 in 2013.

After years of helping Peyton thrive in the Mile High City, Franklin can come to New York and help Eli do the same—for a price. A consistent contributor with experience at more than one position, the 27-year-old just entering the prime of his career will not come cheap.

Is he worth the cost?

To get a better idea, let's look at some game film:

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

This play is from the 2013 divisional round, when Franklin (highlighted) played right tackle for the Broncos. It's a 3rd-and-17 late in the game against the San Diego Chargers, and a couple of first downs would essentially send Denver to the AFC Championship Game.

See the trust Manning and the Broncos place in Franklin below:

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

San Diego's Melvin Ingram rushes from the left edge, and the Broncos are confident enough to leave him on an island (pink) with Franklin. There's no need for a running back or tight end to chip in, as Franklin holds up his side of a perfectly clean pocket (yellow):

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Manning needs plenty of time to let his receivers get downfield, so Franklin must hold his block (pink) as long as possible. He keeps his base and never lets Ingram get within arm's reach of the quarterback, allowing Manning to complete a 21-yard pass (yellow) to Demaryius Thomas for a first down.

Now, let's take a look at his run-blocking:

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

This play is from Week 12 of the 2014 season, after Franklin (highlighted) had been moved to left guard. The Broncos are trailing by three in the fourth quarter when they dial up an inside handoff to running back C.J. Anderson from Miami's 10-yard line:

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Franklin shows great agility at the moment of the snap, pulling (pink) to his right and beating Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins to the hole. The perfect timing of the play allows a path (yellow) for Anderson to form almost immediately:

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Franklin dominates Jenkins at the point of contact, sealing off the right side of the running lane (pink). Anderson bursts through the hole and sprints (yellow) into the end zone for the go-ahead score.

The Broncos would go on to win by a final score of 39-36.

This is the exact type of lineman New York needs. Franklin could challenge Justin Pugh for the starting right tackle job. If he wins the position battle, Pugh can slide over to guard, where many believe his skill set is better suited anyway. Reese told WFAN's Mike Francesca (h/t NJ.com's Nick Powell) that changing Pugh's position is a definite possibility.

And if Pugh emerges victorious, that's OK, too. Franklin has already proven he can get the job done when tucked inside.

With Will Beatty entrenched at left tackle, Geoff Schwartz healthy at left guard and Weston Richburg coming up at center, the Giants only need one more solid starter to form a formidable offensive line.

That player should be Franklin.

Kevin Boilard writes about the New York Giants at Bleacher Report.

Follow me on Twitter @KevinBoilard.

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