By: Robbie Stratakos
New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has talked about improving the team’s offensive line for two and a half years. He finally did in this year’s NFL Draft, and it sets the stage for their offense to have a breakout season.
The Giants selected three offensive linemen in the draft: Georgia’s Andrew Thomas (4), UConn’s Matt Peart (99) and Oregon’s Shane Lemieux (150). In all likelihood, Thomas will be the only immediate starter of the trio in 2020.
Standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 315 pounds, Thomas will make a difference from the get-go. He’s a superb pass blocker and respectable against the run. This skillset bodes well for the individuals the Giants are heavily invested in: Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
While Jones – the team’s first-round pick last year – flashed excellence in his rookie season, his production and comfort was hindered by shaky tackle play. Thomas’ fundamentally sound technique will help aid Jones’ blind side. Meanwhile, having a sturdy fixture at left tackle will help the running game, giving Barkley, the team’s 2018 first-round pick, more running lanes. The Giants have to maximize their investment in the young game changers.
The Giants’ offense features a slew of playmakers which includes Barkley, wide receivers Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, and tight end Evan Engram. They’re too talented to be in the middle of the pack in offensive production, which is where they’ve been in each of the last two seasons.
The lingering problem has been protection. If someone struggles to hold their own, they now have viable alternatives. They have Peart, Cameron Fleming and Nick Gates waiting in the wings at tackle. Meanwhile, Lemieux, a left guard at Oregon, is cross-training at center, and Gates has played right guard in the past.
An offensive line (from left to right) of Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley, Kevin Zeitler and Nate Solder includes a mix of reliable guard play and moving a struggling veteran (Solder) to a position where his struggling is less detrimental.
This offense is poised to come out of its shell.