The New York Giants went out on a limb last offseason when they drafted Andrew Thomas with a top five pick; not the riskiest option in the world, but not the one with the highest ceiling either. The pick was said to be playing it safe, and opinion went back and forth on the player early on in the season.
First, there was talk that Thomas might be a bust. Another Ereck Flowers. And then some arguments that his struggles might be a matter of coaching. His own former coach even came out and basically said that he was being coached wrong. The Giants made a mid season coaching change at the O-line coach spot and the verdict on Thomas has improved since the season began.
But the rookie still has further to go in his second season. He’ll have the advantage of entering with more experience this year, and based on what he’s said, some important lessons too.
“Thatâ€™s the biggest thing I think, going from college to the NFL is just how much you have to study your craft and your techniques,” Thomas said on Tuesday when addressing the media. “Those rushers, they study you, know your stance, they know your hand-placement, all those things, and if you make one small mistake it can tumble into a snowball effect and be a bad game for you. Thatâ€™s been the biggest thing Iâ€™ve learned so far.”
He said that he aimed to keep his head down during his rookie season and ignore the media. It’s an understandable position, considering the greatly varying takes on Thomas this year.
Comparisons to other players
The big comparison this year has been to Mekhi Becton, who was selected lower than Thomas but had a more consistent season while playing with the Giants’ crosstown rival. Thomas said that he’s not focusing on other players like Becton – or Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills, the other highly drafted tackles from his class.
“For me, I look at it as running my own race. I want all those guys to be successful, but for me I want to be the best player I can be, the best player I can be for the Giants, for my teammates and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m working to be,” Thomas said, adding that focusing on others would take away from his own efforts.
Thomas played in all 16 games for the Giants this season and was involved in 96% of their offensive snaps during those games. His rookie season was good enough to build on, but there will almost certainly be more scrutiny going into his second year.
After all, Daniel Jones was hit far more times this season than what should be acceptable. If the Giants want to turn it around and make the playoffs next year, solving that problem and improving the O-line’s performance will be one of their chief challenges.