The last time the Giants found success with a fifth-round draft pick offensive lineman was in 2003 when they landed Illinois offensive lineman David Diehl in the fifth round. Diehl became a top performer who prided himself on his versatility, among other things.
Since Diehl, the Giants have spent a fifth-round pick on only two offensive linemen, Mitch Petrus in 2010 and, more recently, Shane Lemieux in 2020. And so far, Lemieux has developed into quite the find for the Giants offensive line.
Limited to just two snaps in his first seven games, both of those snaps coming at fullback, Lemieux finally got onto the field at left guard in Week 8 after incumbent Will Hernandez tested positive for COVID-19.
Coincidentally that’s when the offense’s running game took off, and the team went on a 4-game winning streak with Lemieux smack in the middle of that success. While Lemieux wasn't perfect--pass protection was a big-time struggle for him--the promise he showed as a rookie suggests that the sky is the limit with this old-school offensive lineman.
What He Brings
Lemieux has a natural feel for every aspect of run-blocking. Some people think that pulling is what he does best—he does it very well—but there is so much more that he brings.
His combo blocks are punctuated with power and efficiency. His solo run blocks create clean standoffs and space. He is also extremely alert, and his blocks are so clean that he separates from one block to pick off another defender with ease.
This is what separated Lemieux from Hernandez last season. Lemieux can adjust on the move within the pit chaos without the game ever seeming too fast for him., and his blocking is clean. And another key yet underrated strength is his ability to peel off one block and get another while getting the proper angle to neutralize the defender trying to penetrate. Lemieux showed he does this very well.
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So where can this young man improve? As with all young players, strength is at the top of his list. Lemieux was susceptible to bull rushes and swim moves, but some added strength to help him establish a better base will help with that and with his balance, while improved hand punch will help with fending off the swim moves and quick moves that defenders were able to baffle him with.
Finally, the mental aspect of Lemieux's game, which got better each week as he continues to see more and more reps, needs to be acknowledged. Lemieux did a fine job picking up stunts and reacting accordingly, a problem with the offensive line at the start of the year.
Lemieux is in the second year of his rookie deal and will count for $866,785 against the 2021 cap.
Lemieux is projected to be the starting left guard.
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