With only six draft picks with which to work, surely the Giants, who last year spent a first, third and fifth-round pick on the offensive line, won’t bother “wasting” draft capital on that unit again this year, right?
Sure, general manager Dave Gettleman might have told reporters before the start of free agency that he likes the talent the team currently has, but that doesn’t mean that the Herculean and never-ending task of fixing the offensive line is finished.
The only two spots on the unit that one might safely say are set in stone are left tackle and center, positions that will be anchored by Andrew Thomas (the first-round pick last year) and Nick Gates, respectively.
Beyond that are question marks at both guards and right tackle. At guard, the Giants have a pair of young players in Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux, both of whom have been career left guards and are expected to compete for that position.
The loser of that competition isn’t an automatic lock to move to the vacant right guard spot, a vacancy created when the Giants cut veteran Kevin Zeitler. Sure, the Giants added veteran Zach Fulton for depth, but Fulton, who came over from the Texans, ranked 10th among all offensive linemen last year in total quarterback pressures allowed.
At right tackle, the organization is high on second-year player Matt Peart, who saw the end of his rookie campaign cut short due to an ankle issue. But for as high as they are on Peart, that doesn’t mean they’re going simply hand him the starting job and call it a day.
There is also a matter of depth. Fulton, Hernandez, Nate Solder, and Jonotthan Harrison are all signed through this year. The odds of all four of those players coming back in 2022 aren’t very high, and that would be a lot of depth to lose. And if there’s one thing that the Giants appear to have learned under Gettleman, it’s that you don’t wait until the last minute to add depth to your offensive line.
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But if you’re still not buying any of those reasons why the Giants will add offensive line depth probably at some point in the first two days, how about the most important one of all: quarterback Daniel Jones.
The Giants heavily invested in playmakers to help Jones take that Josh Allen type of leap from Year 2 to Year 3. But all of that won’t anything if Jones’ protection isn’t more consistent than it was last year.
How bad was it? Regardless of the offensive line combination, Jones finished tied with then Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton for fifth-most pressures that turned to sacks percentage (21.6%) among signal-callers who played in at least 50% of their team’s snaps.
Here is a look at some prospects that project as fits.
Rashawn Slater (Northwestern). There is some question as to whether Slater is a guard or tackle at the next level, but as far as the Giants are concerned, it might not matter. If they like him and feel Slater is a tackle, then plug him in at right tackle and continue developing Peart’s skillset to where perhaps he can play guard down the line. If the Giants think of Slater as more of a guard, then the right guard situation is solved. Of course, with Slater’s stock rising, it remains to be seen if he’ll even be on the board, but if he is, he might be too difficult to pass up.
OG Wyatt Davis (Ohio State). A classic mauler at right guard, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Davis is the ideal size for what the Giants are looking for inside. Davis has exceptional agility and balance, which helps him stay with and finish his blocks. A fit for any scheme, Davis projects as a Day 2 prospect assuming his medical check came back satisfactory.
Jack Anderson (Texas Tech). A Shane Lemieux clone physically speaking, Anderson is a power right guard who has very good mobility to pull and get to the second level. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder plays a fast game and has above-average competitive toughness—he is relentless against opponents and plays to the whistle.
Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma). A three-year starter at center, The 6-foot-3, 315-pounder is smart, quick on his feet, and has more than enough power to hold up against the bigger men he’s likely to face at the pro level. Humphrey, a potential Day 3 candidate, is a technician who would give the Giants a backup option for Gates at center.