The New York Giants drafted Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Their expectation was that he would develop into a starting tackle, preferably on the left side. Replacing Nate Solder became essential after he allowed 11 sacks and put rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in peril far too often.
Thomas is a mean player who stands his ground and can move well in the run game. While he undoubtedly has weaknesses to refine, he has the highest floor of any tackle prospect coming out of the 2020 draft class. He has Pro Bowl potential and is a year one starter given his frame and fundamental approach to the game.
Despite his advantages, new head coach Joe Judge has made it apparent that every player will be fighting for their position, even ones who are expected to start. Nobody is guaranteed a spot on the team, and Thomas has plenty of competition to conquer. He inevitably hast to dethrone Solder at left tackle or solidify the right tackle spot over Cameron Fleming and Nick Gates.
However, Thomas is developing a relationship with the very man he might displace after the 2020 season. The expectation is that the Giants will release Solder from his four-year, $62 million deal. After this upcoming season, he will count just $6.5 million in dead-cap, but if retained will count $20.5 million. Releasing him seems like the best move, considering the monetary allocations and repercussions.
That hasn’t stopped Thomas and Solder from developing a relationship and connecting on one significant thing.
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Andrew Thomas spoke on the Giants Huddle podcast, stating:
“For the rookies, the big thing for us is knowing everybody on the team, knowing the staff,” Thomas said. “They test us all the time because they want us to know. The NFL is a people’s league, and we have to know our teammates and the people that we’ll see in the building every day. So, we’re trying to do that. I’ve also been building a relationship with [veteran offensive tackle] Nate Solder actually. He reached out to me. Obviously, he’s a man of faith, so that’s something that’s big for me, just him inviting me to be part of bible studies, something that I want to do and stuff like that. Just trying to get to know the guys.”
The fact that Nate reached out to Thomas is a positive sign, as healthy competition can be great for every party. With the competitiveness in the NFL, sometimes bad blood can be spilled, but this seems to be a different circumstance.
Thomas can undoubtedly learn from the veteran tackle who has struggled in his personal life the past few years. His son has dealt with cancer, surely distracting him from his responsibilities in the NFL, justifiably.
The fact that he is willing to reach out and help Thomas connect with the team is a positive sign. That’s a reason the Giants still have faith in the former New England tackle.
Hopefully, Joe Judge and his coaching staff can find a way to incorporate both players on offense, whether it be Solder at right tackle and Thomas at left or vice-versa. Continuity on the offensive line is a necessity moving forward.