Player Profile: Kevin Zeitler, OG
2019 Season Rewind
The 2019 offseason was a whirlwind for offensive guard Kevin Zeitler.
He was traded from the Cleveland Browns, whom he had spent the previous two seasons with, to the New York Giants in exchange for edge rusher Olivier Vernon, a player the Giants were thought to be on the verge of releasing had there been no takers.
Given the salary difference and the Giants' need for offensive linemen, this trade ended up being a steal for New York. (This trade was separate from the blockbuster deal involving Odell Beckham Jr, who's was also sent to the Browns, in exchange for Jabrill Peppers and two draft picks.)
While it was initially shocking for Zeitler, he quickly went right to work to become the Giants' most consistent offensive lineman in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, Zeitler had a solid first year with the Giants as a staple on their line's interior.
In 15 starts, the veteran only committed two penalties and allowed three sacks, which were both statistical lows for his position league-wide.
Zeitler played in 15-out-of-16 games despite dealing with several nagging injuries throughout the season, including a shoulder injury, which kept him out of the Week 15 matchup against Miami.
And all this came even after having his contract reworked to better fit under the salary cap., Zeitler showing himself to be a silent yet strong leader who never took a play off.
Late in the season, his shoulder injury started to affect his performance, as some of the power exited from his game, particularly in run blocking. Still, his pass-blocking held up as he held up to power in pass pro well enough, while his toughness, hand technique, balance, and power base all combined to make him a positive performer.
Zeitler is once again projected to start at right guard for the Giants in what is potentially a big year ahead.
There is a very strong possibility that Zeitler will be paired with rookie Andre Thomas at the right tackle spot. And quite frankly, having Thomas work along Zeitler wouldn't be such a bad thing as the guard is as cerebral as they come, and his experience should help the youngster quickly acclimate to the speed of the NFL game.
Meanwhile, while Spencer Pulley is likely to be the incumbent, there is also a chance that Nick Gates might end up with the job. Gates has never played the center position in a live game, so putting him alongside Zeitler would be smart if they wish to break him in at that position.
But as has been said often, an offensive line is only as good as its weakest link, and right now, there are concerns about the center position. If the Giants can find a solution for that position, the trio of Zeitler, the center, and Will Hernandez has the potential to be one of the best offensive interiors in the league next year.