Giants UDFA Offensive Lineman Could Be Andrew Norwell 2.0

The New York Giants may have found their Andrew Norwell of 2018 — Norwell was an undrafted player in 2014. General manager Dave Gettleman grabbed Nebraska offensive lineman Nick Gates immediately following the draft, who possessed a 3/4th round grade according to one scout.

Gates was a three-year starter for Nebraska and has eerily similar tangible skills to Norwell. Both were expected to swing inside to play guard once entering the NFL, despite spending their collegiate career at the tackle position.

Norwell emerged as a Pro-Bowl guard in 2017, earning grades that made him arguably the best in the league at his position. He was heavily linked to the Giants before being scooped up by the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. To compensate for that loss, Gettleman snagged Patriots’ Nate Solder to play left tackle. His $15.5 million per-year tops the league for lineman. Norwell was expected to land $14-15  million per-year. Luckily, grabbing UTEP OL Will Hernandez in the second-round in the draft was a nice consolation prize for the Giants at guard.

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The potential of Nick Gates:

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Gates will enter the NFL at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds. His foot quickness and ability to kick it outside to mirror edge rushers is impressive. He will have to change his technique to adjust to the guard position, but his agility is premier. At guard he will deal with interior defenders more often, which will hide his biggest weakness. Gates struggled with speed to power rushers, which is often a challenge when playing tackle. Dealing with larger defensive tackles that contain more power than speed will erase Gates’ weakness for the most part, which will benefit him in the long-run. He will need to work on his overall strength and power at the next level, but if he can develop into his frame he could make a Norwell-like impact.

Gates enjoyed All Big-Ten honorable mentions as a 13-game starter in 2016 and 12-game starter in 2017. NFL scout Dan Shonka graded him as a 3/4th round player, which is far better than “undrafted” status.

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“I probably saw so many train wrecks, he was like an oasis,” Dan Shonka said of former Nebraska Cornhuskers tackle Nick Gates. “The No. 1 thing an offensive lineman has to do in the NFL is pass protect, and he can do that. And God knows we need tackles.”

“He can redirect,” Shonka said. “A guy’s got to be able to change direction when a guy gets by them a little bit and put them off. That’s one thing that will help Gates — he can move his feet. He can redirect. He’s got good hand placement, uses his hands well.”

While playing tackle requires vastly different technique, his transition to guard should, in fact, improve his overall quality in the NFL.