New York Giants Andrew Thomas Holding His Own Against Top NFL Pass Rushers
Giants rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas has gone up against some of the best competition the NFL has to offer, but there's plenty more to come, and he doesn't mind it one bit.
The fourth-overall draft pick out of Georgia was thrust into the team's starting left tackle spot after veteran offensive tackle Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Since then, Thomas has gone up against some of the league's premier pass rushers against whom Thomas has held his own.
"That’s the beauty of the NFL," Thomas said. "Every week, you’re going against the best--especially playing left tackle--pass rushers in the world, so I have to be prepared every week,"
Going up against top pass rushers at any level is nothing new for Thomas.
As a starting offensive tackle for Georgia from 2017-19, Thomas regularly faced off against edge rushers that have gone on to become starters in the NFL. Last season for the Bulldogs, he allowed just nine pressures, including one sack, in 410 pass-block snaps.
For as solid as he's been, Thomas continues to learn that the NFL is a much different animal than the college game, specifically when it comes to the quality of his opponent's techniques, which he said has been the most challenging adjustment.
"They understand what they’re doing. They take advantage of things you might do," he said. "In college, you might overset, and they may not take it, or you might be too long with your outside hand punch. In the NFL they take advantage of everything you do that might not be correct."
That degree of technical refinement from Thomas' opponents has forced him to tirelessly work to improve his technique to match, especially considering the type of offense the Giants have been running.
Thomas' rookie growing pains have been on full display as he's had to work mostly in pass protection, which is notably more difficult for young offensive tackles to learn than run blocking.
While run blocking would typically allow Thomas to utilize his elite strength and athleticism to overpower defenders, the Giants' pass-first philosophy has forced Thomas to refine his pass-blocking technique, predominantly his hand usage.
"The biggest thing I have been working on is just my hands in pass pro," Thomas said. "Being more consistent with them with my strength and my punch, that’s something that I’m still working on. I made improvements but I’m still trying to get better every day," he said.
"You have to be very specific in your technique every play. You can’t get lulled to sleep. You can’t revert to old habits; you have to make sure you have the same technique.
"The biggest thing for me is having different types of sets, different types of approaches to guys. If you do the same thing over and over, they will adjust to it."
So far, the early-returns have shown that the Giants' got the athleticism and overall potential they were hoping for.
On top of that, Thomas' demeanor as a young player has given head coach Joe Judge and the rest of the staff belief that Thomas will correct the things that can be coached and be a cornerstone player on offense for many years to come.
"The athleticism definitely stands out, but I’d say how mentally tough [Thomas] is," Judge said of what's stood out about Thomas thus far.
"This guy has had some really elite pass rushers over him the last couple weeks. It’s only going to be the same thing throughout the remainder of our schedule."