New York Giants center Nick Gates is the latest rags-to-riches success story to come through the franchise's doors over the last ten years.
Originally an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska, where he played left tackle, Gates first began to show signs of being more than just training camp fodder during his rookie season in 2018 when he took snaps at tackle.
However, he suffered a season-ending foot injury and would not get his opportunity to shine until the following year.
In 2019, Gates appeared in four games as a starter at both right guard and right tackle. In 191 pass-block snaps, he allowed just nine pressures, one of which was a sack.
Behind the scenes, Gates, whose skill set seemed to be a better fit for the interior offensive line, was also working on learning the center position, crediting former offensive lineman Spencer Pulley as being a significant resource in understanding the position's intricacies.
In 2020, Gates was named the starting center for the Giants, a surprising decision considering he had never played the position live and did not have an off-season(canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) to develop a comfort level at his new spot.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Gates played every offensive snap for the Giants at center and did not allow a sack. He now looks to build on a mostly successful and solid first season at center in 2021.
What He Brings
Gates is your typical blue-collar offensive lineman: He's tough, he's smart, he's reliable, and he's alert.
Last year, he proved to be a bully on the white lines, playing with a nasty disposition and not backing down from anyone (see his Week 4 faceoff with Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald and his pushback against the Cowboys in Week 17 as prime examples).
Gates is constantly looking for work and has enough athleticism and quick feet to where he can peel off one block and quickly get to another in the vicinity without wasting much motion in between.
Gates is also a solid run blocker who offers just enough power in his game to drive defenders out of the way.
Overall, Gates had a solid first year playing live reps at center. That said, the one area where he'll need to grow--and he will as he receives more live reps--is in his line calls, especially against certain blitzes and stunts that were still flummoxing the offensive line as late as Week 17.
Gates signed a two-year contract extension last summer worth $6.825 million. He'll count for $3.325 million against this year's cap and has $1 million in guaranteed salary due this year.
Barring injury, Gates will reprise his role as the starting center, which we can probably expect to see him look more comfortable in orchestrating the line calls.
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