Giants’ 2nd-year offensive lineman may develop into a starter

daniel jones, new york giants, josh ezeudu
Sep 11, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) hands off the ball during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium . Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants narrowly escaped Week 2 with a win over the Arizona Cardinals, thanks in part to a breathtaking 58-yard reception from Jalin Hyatt. This comeback was one for the books, but let’s not forget that the offensive line played a crucial role in enabling this magic to happen.

Daniel Jones’ Reinforced Pocket: The Thomas-less Miracle

Quarterback Daniel Jones had significantly more time in the pocket during the second half, affording him opportunities to launch the ball downfield and make some calculated runs. What makes the Giants’ 31-point scoreline particularly miraculous is the absence of star left tackle Andrew Thomas. Yet, it was second-year offensive lineman Josh Ezeudu who stepped into the void and made his presence felt.

Josh Ezeudu: From Rookie to Reliability

Last season, Ezeudu saw 290 snaps, primarily at left guard, giving up 15 pressures, including three sacks and three penalties. However, the UNC alum has begun his 2023 campaign on a high note. Filling in for the absent Thomas in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, Ezeudu looked solid in his 14 snaps. In fact, against the Arizona Cardinals, he surrendered only a single pressure over 68 snaps, virtually guaranteeing his role as the team’s primary backup should Thomas be unavailable.

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Andrew Thomas: A Game-Time Decision and Ezeudu’s Challenge

As of now, Andrew Thomas remains a game-time decision for the forthcoming Thursday clash with the San Francisco 49ers and their fearsome pass rush. If Ezeudu has to fill in again at left tackle, the Giants could anticipate competent play. However, facing off against Nick Bosa will be a monumental task for the 24-year-old.

Ezeudu’s Versatility: A Potential Shift to Right Tackle?

Ezeudu’s improved performance indicates that he could readily slot into the left guard position if Thomas returns. Some even argue that he might be better utilized at right tackle, particularly if Evan Neal continues to struggle. Neal’s Week 2 showing was an improvement, conceding only three pressures, but the quality of his opposition was hardly top-tier.

Evan Neal’s Vulnerability: A Looming Concern for the Giants

If the San Francisco 49ers manage to exploit Neal’s vulnerabilities, the Giants may have to contemplate shifting Ezeudu to the right. A weak link in the offensive line not only jeopardizes the Giants’ chances of winning but also puts Daniel Jones at considerable risk each time he drops back. Thus, any necessary lineup changes must be thoughtfully considered.