Giants’ 2nd-year center needs to make big improvements this season

Dec 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants center John Michael Schmitz Jr. (61) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants were very high on center John Michael Schmitz, taking him in the second round of the 2023 draft. He had a promising college career at Minnesota that saw him be named a first-team All-American in 2022, which led many to believe he could help fix the abysmal offensive line the team has had over the past few seasons.

However, he endured some growing pains in his first NFL season last year, and he will now need to make big improvements this upcoming season. Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson listed Schmitz as a player who will be under a lot of pressure to perform well in year two, citing his draft hype and underwhelming performance in 2023.

“His college tape was littered with the types of blocks you need athleticism to execute, so many teams were still very high on his ability to thrive in the NFL, including the Giants, who drafted him at No. 57 overall and handed him the starting job,” Monson wrote. “He went on to surrender 30 quarterback pressures, including five sacks, earning just a 26.9 PFF pass-blocking grade. His run blocking, a college strength, was below average, and there was very little in the way of positive performances in his first year.”

John Michael Schmitz could be in for an improved season under Giants’ new offensive line coach

New York Giants center John Michael Schmitz Jr. (61) before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants’ offensive line struggled as a whole last season, allowing a franchise-record 85 sacks. That likely played a part in Schmitz’s misfortunes, as he had to try to pick up the slack of the other guys around him on the offensive line. However, it is also very rare for a rookie offensive lineman to perform well right away, so it is not very surprising that Schmitz’s first year was a challenge.

The 25-year-old center has a massive opportunity to learn from his first year and make strides under a new offensive line coach, as the Giants fired Bobby Johnson in January and hired Carmen Bricillo. Bricillo was with the Las Vegas Raiders last season and his offensive line unit allowed just 40 sacks, which is roughly half the figure the Giants allowed.

The Giants have low expectations next season as their offense is still dormant, but if Schmitz can make big improvements to his game this upcoming season, then that will make the process of building a strong offensive line a lot smoother as the years pass.

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